LEESBURG, Va. — When Cyndi Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer seven years ago, she didn't have any close friends who could relate. She was devastated and felt alone.
"It was the scariest day of my life," Anderson said. She's married with two kids. "Had I not acted as quickly as I did, I might not be here."
On Valentine's Day in 2012, Anderson was diagnosed with breast cancer after finding a painless lump in her right breast around Christmas. She had a mastectomy a short time later. Anderson said she had always kept up with her appointments, and had no family history, so she didn't see this coming.
During her time in the hospital, she received two 'Bosom Buddy Baskets' that were delivered by The IIIB's Foundation, a nonprofit that provides comfort to women having or recovering from a mastectomy. The baskets are filled with comfort and recovery items for patients.
"When I went through breast cancer, there were lots of companies and people raising money to find a cure, but I couldn't wait for that," Carolyn Rodenburg said. She's the founder of the nonprofit, and a breast cancer survivor.
"I needed comfort, reassurance and items at that time," Rodenburg said.
Rodenburg said she had a dream about a former classmate who died of breast cancer and pink candles on a birthday cake. That dream led to encouraging family and friends about using a pink candle on their birthday as a reminder about getting a mammogram. She said the idea eventually morphed into the baskets.
Each basket includes some of the following items: a candle, pink blanket, tissues, water bottle, pill organizer, hot/cold pack, "Luke the Lamb" which is a seatbelt holder to prevent the belt from hitting the chest, a back scratcher and more.
Anderson still has some of the items from her basket today. She found all of it useful.
"When you have any type of surgery and they give you morphine, oh my goodness or any type of medication that may cause you to itch, you can barely move your arms," Anderson said. "So, to have a back scratcher is very helpful."
Over the last 15 years, The IIIB's Foundation has delivered more than 7,500 Bosom Buddy Baskets to patients throughout nine local hospitals, 48 states and multiple countries, according to Rodenburg. Volunteers help her make new baskets every day.
If you'd like to request a Bosom Buddy Basket, you can find more information here.