(Note: This content was co-created with the Charlotte Checkers.)
This weekend marks the annual “Pink in the Rink” series at Bojangles’ Coliseum, and it’s a season highlight for Charlotte Checkers players and staff alike. While the festivities — like auctioning the players’ special pink jerseys on Saturday night — support several nonprofits that fight breast cancer, there’s one organization that sometimes flies under the radar.
Cindy’s Hope Chest is run almost entirely by survivor Cindy Summers, and the organization’s mission — well, we’ll let these stories speak for themselves.
I met Cindy through my neighbor Melissa, and we became friends. I started volunteering with Cindy’s Hope Chest. It was something I enjoyed doing, helping and being behind the scenes. My husband Frank and I would always adopt a woman battling the beast every Christmas, and spoil her. Made us feel good!
Then Christmas of 2014, I felt a lump, before I even told my husband I called Cindy. Her sweet Southern kindness was second to none. Her support and general caring from that moment on was and is the most valuable (not sure what the right word is here) resource that there is.
Going through this breast cancer journey is one winding road. You never know where the next turn is going to take you. You hear stories of woman getting diagnosed and treated, but until you are sitting across from that doctor, and he looks at you and says you have stage 4 Triple Negative Breast Cancer, you really have no clue. Cindy came with Frank and me to one of our appointments, and she sat there and listened. She asked questions I would have never thought of.
When we were done with that appointment, walking out I said to her, “You did this with just you and your husband while you had three small girls?!” That is when she said that she vowed to help other woman and their families and created Cindy’s Hope Chest.
Cindy has held my hand, guided me, answered my questions — even the crazy ones — cried with me, held me tight, and when needed left me alone. I know that sounds weird but sometimes while traveling this road you do want to be left alone.
I won’t forget after one of my first appointments, she called me and asked how it went. I told her and told her that I was just not happy with the doctor. She said, “Well then you fire her! Maryan, this is your life here and you need to be comfortable.” So I did. I fired a doctor and hired the most amazing caring group.
Cindy not only opens her heart and home to you; you become part of the Summers family. She is always there. You may get a random text message from her at any given time of day or night just checking in on you. This says a lot about a small personal organization. It’s the personal hands-on touch. You call her number, she answers, she calls you back, she makes things happen and move for you.
She does all of this while raising her own family of three beautiful girls. I can be out in a restaurant and may run into one of the Summer girls and they ALWAYS come over and give you a big hug and flash those beautiful smiles. She is teaching them well. Her husband Mike is one big man — I tell everyone, “Umm he’s on my team!” Mike is a huge teddy bear, and just as caring and loving as Cindy.
If I did not have Cindy by my side and my family’s side this past year, I’m not sure we would be as strong as we are as we are still battling this beast and traveling this road.
Cindy lost one of her girls this year, and her motto was and is “No one fights alone.” No truer words can be said when you are one of Cindy’s girls.
I am a proud supporter of Cindy’s Hope Chest and proud to be “one of the girls.”
We found out two and a half years ago that I had stage 4 breast cancer. Cindy was there from the beginning, which was great. We had tons of questions and concerns that she was able to help us with. She offered to go to any doctor appointments with me or even to call them if I needed her to! She helped me pick out a few wigs and also showed me the trick to wearing bandanas!
Cindy’s Hope Chest has helped with Christmas for my husband and I, and our 4 children! CHC has brought Easter baskets to us several times. They have also done some yard work for us and have gotten someone to clean the house.
If there is anything I ever need, all I have to do is call. It is a great feeling to know that there is local support with someone who knows what we are going through.
Since my breast cancer diagnosis in October of 2015, Cindy and her organization have been a true blessing. I was referred to Cindy through a friend, and she has touched my life in so many ways.
I had the pleasure of going to the Hope Chest to pick out wigs, hats, lip balm, sanitizers, wraps, etc. I am 32 and I was having a hard time finding a place that had wigs and hats that are my style and for my age. Cindy’s Hope Chest made this easy! I was able to bring along my friends and family and enjoy trying on wigs in the comfort and privacy of her workspace.
Cindy’s Hope Chest also provided me with several house cleanings as I underwent my chemotherapy. This made it easy for me to focus on my family and my health. One of the greatest blessings came this Christmas when our family name was drawn from Cindy’s “Angel Tree.” A special family purchased gifts for myself and my three young children.
It made it a Christmas to remember and instilled values on my children that will last a lifetime. Cindy is a wealth of knowledge and will help you in any way possible. We are so grateful to be a part of such a wonderful organization!
I met Cindy shortly after I was diagnosed, and she was extremely caring and offered me so many resources. But initially… I was shy. I was overwhelmed, I was shocked and I just wasn’t ready to accept the resources she was offering. She ever so gently kept in touch and offered me different resources, whether it was offering someone to come and clean my house or make a meal.
Over time, I realized I needed to utilize the resources. When it came time to find wigs, I called Cindy. She offered her time and allowed me to come in and browse and try on without anyone else there. It was so easy and I left with several wigs. Many times, out of the blue, she’d call and offer to have my house cleaned or other random things that she could help with.
Then, I got a call that Cindy had a family that had donated gifts to our family during the holidays. She asked me to come and get them. Amazing, personalized gifts for our entire family… I was in shock. While I was there, I expressed to her the difficulty I was having with lock shoulder and capsular contracture as a result of my treatments.
She offered the services of a local chiropractor and his massage therapist, no charge. When I say this was life changing, I mean LIFE CHANGING.
She allowed me to go as I needed, which was honestly often. My mobility was at 10%. I could not even put my hand on my hips. CHC paid for all of my treatments. Anytime, I have a concern, I contact Cindy.
She has her hands full with a lot of ladies who need her. But, she is always there to lend an ear… And to be a shoulder to lean on. I cannot say enough wonderful things about Cindy’s Hope Chest. Cindy is an amazing soul and I’m so happy I was able to connect with her and so many other wonderful cancer sisters.
Cindy was such great support to me after learning of my breast cancer stage 3. She was a lot of help to me and my family. Cindy helped me with things such as help paying bills, grocery, doctor visits, etc…
Cindy was a gift to me as well as and inspiration. Her gift enabled me to keep my head above water and I really appreciate Cindy. As of today she still makes sure that I’m doing good. Thanks Cindy & CHC for being a great support system.
All photos courtesy of the Charlotte Checkers.