BAG IT reaches out to cancer patients, of any gender, age, or cancer type, at a critical time – right after their diagnosis. The information is designed to help them cope with their diagnosis, move more competently through the treatment process, empower them to become an active member of the treatment team, and transition to follow-up care.
BAG IT will empower patients to be more involved in their care, advocate for themselves, and learn to cope with the challenges associated with diagnosis and treatment. Further, BAG IT empowers cancer advocates to promote this same vision in their communities.
BAG IT is a successful grassroots community project founded in Tucson, Arizona by survivors for survivors. Founder, Sherri Romanoski, was diagnosed with cancer in 2001 and like so many other patients, tried to find information to cope with this devastating news and how it would affect her life. Her doctors gave her details about her cancer and treatment, but little about how to handle a diagnosis and treatment. After completing a tough course of chemotherapy, she came to realize that this coping problem existed not only for her, but other patients as well.
After almost two years of development, with the input from focus groups of cancer survivors, oncologists, and oncology nurses, BAG IT was made available to individuals with any type of cancer and their families. Distribution of BAG IT bags began in July of 2003.
Bag It’s Evolution
BAG IT has expanded its area of service from Tucson to include the state of Arizona and beyond. We have reached out to over 55,000 individuals with cancer and their families. We accomplish this through our trusted relationships with surgical, oncology, and radiation offices, cancer centers, hospitals, health clinics, and tribal health centers.
BAG IT’s commitment to helping newly diagnosed patients and their families cope with their diagnosis and become more empowered is further demonstrated by their ongoing refinement of the bag. Patients and/or their families are encouraged to complete and return the feedback form found in the binder. The invaluable input received is tabulated and analyzed by our staff to ensure the needs of bag recipients are being met. Recent revisions have included:
- A fully translated Spanish version of the bag is now available, including all of the publications.
- Updated versions of all publications from the National Cancer Institute and National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship are included in the bag.
- Information of a general nature regarding clinical trials and complementary therapies is included.
- The patient binder has been redesigned to reflect the needs expressed by patients and survivors.
Knowledge gained by involvement in national programs helps us better serve our communities. We take pride in helping connect organizations across the state and the country. We have been asked to serve as participants and advisors in state and national focus groups and organizations such as the Arizona Cancer Coalition, the Arizona Cancer Center Scientific Advisory Board, the Congressional Department Medical Review Program, NCI POET Partner Program, NCCS Super-Advocate, and Canyon Ranch Institute’s National Call to Action. BAG IT’s reputation is a solid one.
Our organization now offers a national retreat, ESCAPE – Encouraging and Sustaining Cancer Advocacy Programs and Efforts, for fellow cancer advocates from communities across the country that reach out to others to assist them in their cancer journeys.