Jennifer Ireland Foundation
Jennifer Ireland, 27, a wife and mother of two daughters passed away from a rare form of aggressive colon cancer on Feb. 4, 2007. At 3 am, in a tribute to Jennifer, the 5th floor staff lined the hallway as she was transported from her room. The cancer claimed her body, but her heart, soul and spirit still lives on.
Fast forward to July 16, 2009, Jennifer's mother, Jan Velander and MonikaTotoraitis, Pharm D on the 5th floor of the North
Kansas City Hospital, are delivering a care basket to a patient, Anna Summa, on behalf of the Jennifer Ireland Foundation. Anna was diagnosed with breast cancer at 25 and recently with leukemia at 30.
The Foundation creates care baskets for patients and their families who are undergoing similar procedures as Jennifer's. "Donations don't go to cancer research, but instead directly to patients and their families," says Jan. "I am honored to be her mother and keep her memory alive."
A typical basket contains all the essential wants and needs for a family in the hospital. Snack food, notepads, granola bars and bottled water are a few of the popular items. Attached to the basket is a card with Jennifer's picture and a note from Jan which says, "Please accept this basket from a mother who realizes the need to stay close to your loved ones when they are hospitalized."
Since April 2007, the Foundation has helped over 20 families with baskets. Monika is a member of the Foundation and helps prepare and deliver baskets. "It is all volunteers," says Monika. "We provide the baskets and supplies at our expense."
The Foundation represents Jennifer's spirit and loving heart. "Jennifer was a completely selfless person," says Monika. "She was very giving and the type of person who would give the shirt off her back to a person in need." Jennifer's love and care represents the Foundation's logo of a heart. "It is a symbol of love and it reminds people to give from their heart just as Jennifer did," says Jan. "She can't be here to pay it forward and give back, so we do it for her."
To learn about the program, visit www.jenniferirelandfoundation.com to read Jennifer's story, find information regarding the Foundation's future events and how to donate or contribute to the baskets. Jan wants the Foundation to be the support for the patients and families just how the staff, family and friends were supportive to her.
Jennifer's road after diagnosis was tough, but she didn't let the cancer get in the way of living her life. She went out with her friends and spent a lot of time with her daughters. "She handled it with grace and dignity," says Jan. "She was always so full of hope and laughter.
Monika and the rest of the 5th floor staff helped with the process by giving Jan all the support, care and attention she would need. "I have never experienced such love and care before," says Jan. "The staff is so loving, caring and tender and I would really like to extend a thank you to NKCH, 5th floor staff, the patients on 5 and everyone who sits by their patients and loved ones." "We get very involved with our patients," says Monika. "It's important to them and their families."
Anna and her mother were gratified when they received the basket. "This is absolutely perfect," says Anna. "You really don't think about the things you want or need." Everything in the basket was something of value to Anna and her mother.
The Jennifer Ireland Foundation continues to support patients and families who are struggling through the difficulty of cancer treatments. "She lived her life as if she didn't have cancer," says Jan. "There are miracles here on earth, and unless you have your eyes open, you miss them. She will never be forgotten."