Finding happiness in difficult experiences is a tricky kind of alchemy, but cancer survivor Chris Dugan knows how to do just that.
Diagnosed with osteosarcoma just before his 13th birthday, Chris found the landscape of his life changed almost instantly. Over the next year, he endured the domino effect of distressing experiences that come with any cancer diagnosis: multiple surgeries, (one of which resulted in ½ of his femur being removed), hours of chemo, and long days (and nights) of nausea and pain.
But, instead of letting this new reality engulf him, Chris found a way to illuminate it with a rare kind of light.
One thing he credits is his involvement in the Boy Scouts of America. Chris had set his sights on becoming an Eagle Scout, a prestigious rank attained by only 2% of all US scouts, something that would require many hours of community service. Getting around with the aid of a walker, Chris was able to complete the necessary steps to earn the Life Scout designation, one level below Eagle Scout. And he did all of it between arduous chemotherapy sessions.
Inspired by his medical adversity and his journey up the scouting ranks, Chris launched an Eagle Scout initiative to create age-specific care packages for kids and teenagers suffering from cancer, many of whom spend an unthinkable amount of time in hospitals. The project would benefit the Children’s Cancer Center of Tampa, a non-profit organization dedicated to serving families of children who have cancer or chronic blood disorders by offering emotional, financial, and educational support necessary to cope with their life-threatening illness.
Chris explained that unlike adults with cancer, pediatric cancer patients can spend most their treatment time in hospitals. In Chris’s case, that meant out of his 11 months of treatment, 120 nights were spent in the hospital.
“We always had a hospital bag ready that had items that I needed to pass the time and make me feel better.” He explained. Inspired by the ‘love bundles’ handed out by the Children’s Cancer Center, but geared towards younger patients, Chris’s own love bundles included items and personal favorites like cozy socks, a journal, puzzle books, iTunes gift cards and even a cancer survivor shirt designed by himself. He even approached Soothing Scents (which is how we first heard of the story) to which we gave an overwhelming yes, and a solid supply of the colorful inhalers designed to ease queasiness that chemotherapy tends to cause.
Chris enlisted the power of social media to raise the funds he needed to kickstart his project.
And just this week, the final board of review for his Eagle Scout rank will be held.
All of us here at Soothing Scents have our fingers and toes crossed, and are busy beaming loving support Chris’s way. We have been incredibly inspired by Chris, and hope that if ever we find ourselves in a similar situation, we would handle it with half as much grace and compassion that he has shown.
Best of luck Chris!