Brenda Jones was going to the hospital every day for chemotherapy treatment for her breast cancer when she decided something had to give. She was tired of wearing a hospital gown all the time and wanted something more dignified and fun. Above all, she needed, as she puts it, “something that made me feel like a person, not a 9:30 appointment.”
The idea, Brenda says, was born of the fact that she was a very angry cancer patient and needed to find something in her life she could control. “I can’t control cancer, but I can control what I wear,” she said.
Brenda didn’t even know how to sew at that time, but she knew it was time to learn. Luckily, a friend of hers who is a seamstress offered to help her, and together they figured out how to put together a special top for chemotherapy patients.
Once it was finished, Brenda wore her new “hug wrap” creation to a chemotherapy appointment, and another patient named Millie asked her where she’d gotten it. Brenda told her she’d made it and offered to make her one too. And that’s how the idea was born.
Since that day, Brenda has made over 2,400 soft and warm hug wraps for chemotherapy patients. “I’m on a mission to hug as many cancer patients as I can,” she said.
Each hug wrap features an open neck for easy access to ports, as well as an interior pocket for drains or other medical devices. The sleeves are extra wide to allow patients to easily put on the garment and take it back off, even for those with limited arm movement, and they’re also big enough to get an IV bag through. Plus, the hug wrap closes in the front, a huge improvement on the standard rear-closure hospital gown.
On top of the hug wraps, Brenda also makes pillowcases for hospice patients and pediatric patients in colorful and fun patterns, plus IV-pole covers for pediatric patients to take away some of the fear that comes from visible medical equipment. She even makes backpacks for homeless people.
Brenda has now passed her 10-year anniversary of survivorship and plans to continue making hug wraps for chemo patients for the foreseeable future. Check out her unique design and heartwarming story in the video below:
Elizabeth Nelson is a wordsmith, an alumna of Aquinas College in Grand Rapids, a four-leaf-clover finder, and a grammar connoisseur. She has lived in west Michigan since age four but loves to travel to new (and old) places. In her free time, she. . . wait, what’s free time?