How a Handmade Care Package Inspired One Cancer ‘Alumni’ to Create ‘Kits to Heart’

March 25, 2021
Ryan McDonald

In this episode of the “CURE® Talks Cancer” podcast, we spoke with a large B-cell lymphoma “alumni” who was diagnosed at 24 about what it was like to be the only young patient receiving infusions at her cancer center, and what led her to start a nonprofit organization to help others along their journey.

In 2017, Sonia Su was a 24-year-old graduate student at Georgetown University who dreamed of travelling abroad and working for the government.

During that time, she started experiencing chest pains. As her symptoms began to worsen, Su decided to visit the campus’ health center where she eventually received a diagnosis of costochondritis — inflammation of the cartilage that connects a person’s rib to their breastbone. Su was prescribed something for the pain, but her symptoms continued.

Su, who recently spoke with CURE®, said she was amid finishing finals and decided to wait until she was done to get a second opinion at an urgent care facility. After multiple tests — which included CT scans, X-rays and a biopsy — Su received a diagnosis of stage 2 primary mediastinal large B-cell lymphoma. The journey that would follow, according to Su, taught her many life lessons that will stick with her.

In this week’s episode of the “CURE® Talks Cancer Podcast,” she discusses how her disease recurred while she was on a fellowship in Taiwan and how her experiences led her to establish a nonprofit organization — called Kits to Heart — to give back to others who are also going through cancer.

“I was really inspired by my time when I was admitted for my final treatment two years ago ….,” she said. “I saw a care package that was left on my bed, and I had just assumed that it was, you know, part of the welcome package from the hospital. But it turns out, it was from a former patient who had been treated at that very unit one year prior and was doing well again. And so just seeing that message of hope really inspired me and motivated me to keep going. And I told myself right then and there that I would do the same thing once I got out of there. And so, I essentially took that idea to help solve those problems that I myself witnessed as a patient and founded what is now called Kits to Heart.”

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