A Bag of Hope: Hope & Cope Becomes the Sole Distributor of the Unique Vo-Pak at the JGH

Hope & Cope has a long history of helping Adolescents and Young Adults (AYA) through programs like Cancer Fight Club and En famille. Like many organizations, we’re looking at more ways to better support a new generation.

A cancer diagnosis is difficult at any age. But it can be especially devastating for adolescents and young adults.

People in this age group face unique challenges and often have few support avenues.

That’s why Hope & Cope is proud to extend its association with the VOBOC (Venturing Out Beyond Our Cancer) Foundation to offer more comfort and hope for this underserved population through its unique Vo-Pak program.

The Vo-Pak is a unique backpack containing many useful tools and resources a cancer patient needs while undergoing their treatments.

Hope & Cope volunteers and staff will be the only ones to distribute the Vo-Pak at the JGH.

The contents of the bag includes a blanket, a Magic Bag, warm and comfortable accessories such socks and tactile gloves, and Lé❤️n, the VOBOC Lion for courage.

Lé❤️n the Lion is not just a plush toy; he’s a symbol of courage that resonates with everyone.

“I speak on the phone with all the patients,” says Bettina Miessl, liaison coordinator at VOBOC. “And when I ask what they like most about the bag, they always mention Lé❤️n—even the 39-year olds! Many of them have young children who really love him.”

The Vo-Pak is compact enough to carry around and versatile enough to serve as a treatment or travel bag.

A single point of contact to distribute the bags

The Vo-Pak program was introduced at the JGH in 2008. Distribution was handled by the medical staff or the Hope & Cope staff and volunteers.

During COVID, the number of Vo-Paks that were given out suffered a significant drop. The medical staff was understandably overwhelmed trying to give basic care. While COVID is not as much as a concern as it once was, the medical staff is still under pressure to deliver care to patients.

To relieve that pressure and to ensure all cancer patients treated at the JGH receive their bag, Hope & Cope staff and volunteers will take over the distribution duties.

Hope & Cope has direct access to the patients from their very first treatments. The staff can keep track of patients who should receive the Vo-Pak and have volunteers give it to them.

“With the help of Hope & Cope volunteers, we can refine the delivery process,” says Rick Simoneau, Hope & Cope’s executive director. “Now, we can filter by age and hand out the bags more efficiently.”

VOBOC and Hope & Cope have collaborated for years, and this new distribution approach cements that relationship further. All to the benefit of the patients.

Young patients who are going through a cancer treatment at the JGH or adolescents and young adults who have a cancer diagnosis are eligible to get the Vo-Pak. If they don’t have one, they can request it.

“As long as they are in the age group, they can get the bag,” says Rick. “There’s no other condition attached to getting the Vo-Pak.”

 If you are a cancer patient at the Jewish General Hospital, aged 13-39, and have not received your Vo-Pak, please contact Hope & Cope at 514 340-8222 ext. 22591.

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