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'You've Got This': Cancer survivor spreads sunshine to people undergoing chemotherapy

You've Got This
16_9 YOU'VE GOT THIS PROJECT.jpg
Posted at 9:08 PM, Jan 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-22 23:27:13-05

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Mary Jo Wegenke founded the You've Got This Project because of her own experience with cancer.

"I was diagnosed with breast cancer. And I had a wonderful support system of family and friends and a wonderful medical team,” Wegenke said.

She says she had many people reach out to her with tips when she was going through treatment.

“Once I was done with treatment. I really wanted to find a way to give back to the community," Wegenke said

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Rich Sorg , he neighbor in East Lansing, was diagnosed with colon cancer two years ago. When she heard the news, she gathered up some helpful products during her treatment.

"I put together a little care package for him, and it just kind of blossomed from there,” Wegenke says.

The You've Got This Project gifts treatment starter packs to adults receiving chemotherapy. The packs include over-the-counter personal care items like a toothbrush, lip balm and lotion dry skin.

“You don’t think of the things that you might need. Like a softer toothbrush because your gums hurt so bad," Sorg said. "The biotin helps the sores on the inside of your mouth. The things that she brought over. I was just thinking. This is just perfect.”

You've Got This

Wegenke said as they found out people were diagnosed with the disease, she and her husband, Bart, reached out and would deliver the packs to them.

With some encouraging words from a friend, they decided to become an organization, and being positive is how they came up with their name.

"My husband was so positive, and so we just wanted it to have a positive flare and a positive message to everybody," Wegenke said.

The family was blindsided last year with a cancer diagnosis for Bart.

You've Got This

"Unfortunately, his ending was much different than mine. It was a terminal diagnosis, and it was very short-lived," Wegenke said.

But she says he was so proud of the project and her biggest cheerleader.

The You've Got This Project continues to grow. Organizations have joined in to help with fundraising and providing products.

Heidi Gascon is a board member. While Wegenke was going through her treatments, so was Gascon's mother. She says it broke her heart to have a family member and a friend both fighting the disease.

When Wegenke approached her to join the organization, she knew it was her way to give back, she said.

“When you hear the diagnosis, it’s shocking you need a lot of hope, and you need positivity," Gascon said. "So, we’re excited to bring that joy to people and give them a little bit of hope in a dark time.”

You've Got This

They've delivered packs locally and even out of state to Chicago, Maryland and Florida.

They say the work they are doing is good, but it's also bittersweet.

"It's nice to know that we can help, and we're happy to do this, and it just serves the mission even more about why we're doing this," Gascon said. "It's just a tough thing to be a part of. We want to be hopeful. But it's also reality."

Wegenke wants to remind those currently going through treatment to surround themselves with goodness, good people and let the medical team take the lead.

"You've got this; you can do it. I know days are long, treatments are long but just give yourself the grace to heal and reach out when you need it," Wegenke said. "Projects like our non-profit You've Got this is there to support you. You're not alone."

More information on the treatment starter packs or to donate is available on the organization's Facebook page.

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Mikayla Temple

Mikayla Temple

1:39 PM, Jan 05, 2021

Your Neighborhood Reporter

Mikayla Temple