Take Charge

Moffitt Patient Brings Relief to Others with Port Pillows

May 08, 2017

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When doctors gave Rhonda only a few months to live after diagnosing her with stage 4 metastatic melanoma and secondary brain cancer, she sought help several hours south of her Wewahitchka, Florida, home at Moffitt Cancer Center, where she was placed on a therapy called Keytruda. Three years later, she says she is not cured, but she’s not given up.

Port PillowsRhonda makes the six-hour drive every three weeks. She spent hours listening to fellow patients share stories about not wearing their seatbelts because the seatbelt put pressure on their port causing pain. The ports, which are placed under the skin, make it easier to receive chemotherapy, blood transfusions, antibiotics and intravenous (IV) fluids because it allows clinicians to directly access a vein.

Though Rhonda does not have a port, it concerned her that other patients were taking a risk by not wearing their seatbelts. A fellow GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s club member brought the pillows to a meeting so she mentioned the need for this item and the Blountstown General Federation of Women’s Club (GFWC) graciously gave her the port pillows to take to Moffitt.

Port pillows are little pillows that go between the seatbelt and the port, making it less painful to drive. The Blountstown GFWC hand makes the pillows in honor of a member whose sister passed way from cancer.

Rhonda took a small batch of pillows to Moffitt to see if there was interest and patients took to them immediately. Now, she brings the pillows with her every time she comes to Moffitt and she says it gives her such joy and satisfaction to know she is helping someone in need. “I can put one smile on one person. It gives me purpose,” she says.

After seeing how much patients appreciated the port pillows, Rhonda and the GFWC Wewahitchka Woman’s Club are looking into patterns that would be appealing to men and even children.