PLAINS TWP. — Ricky Pelliccioni was at Geisinger Wyoming Valley’s Frank M. and Dorothea Henry Cancer Center Friday for his fourth treatment for testicular cancer.
Pelliccioni, 52, of Plymouth, has a positive approach to his treatment and on this day, he and several other cancer patients got an unexpected boost from people they don’t even know.
For the third consecutive year, Subaru of Wyoming Valley and The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society delivered dozens of cozy blankets and handwritten messages of hope to patients at the cancer center.
Subaru donated 80 blankets to the patients, plus arts and crafts kits with crayons and other items to be distributed to children battling cancer.
Mary Anthony, general manager of Subaru of Wyoming Valley on Route 315, said her customers and employees wrote 80 notes of hope and encouragement. Notes with messages like “Never Give Up,” “Get Well Soon,” and “HOPE — Have Only Positive Expectations.”
“This is awesome,” said Pelliccioni. “My treatment has been going well, but to receive something like this is just awesome. And to know that there are people out there who really care about what people like me are going through really makes us feel better.”
Pelliccioni said he has plenty of motivation to get through his battle — he has two sons, ages 35 and 32, and three granddaughters. And Pelliccioni said he has a couple of other “angels” in his life — Robert and Melanie Ashford — who he lives with on Orchard Street.
“They opened their home to me,” Pelliccioni said. “I was living alone. When they found out I needed to be with people at home during my treatment, they invited me to stay with them. They are much more than friends, they are family.”
The Ashfords were with Pelliccioni for his treatment Friday.
“He is amazing,” Melanie said of Pelliccioni. “We honestly believe that if someone is in need, it’s important to reach out and help. Ricky is very high-spirited and he needed help so we opened our doors.”
The Ashfords are planning a benefit to help Pelliccioni. It’s set for Aug. 25 at the Tilbury Fire Hall in Plymouth Township. For more information, go to either Robert Ashford or Melanie Ashford’s page on Facebook.
‘Feels wonderful today’
Subaru’s Mary Anthony said the annual project is one that she and her staff look forward to every year.
“You don’t walk out of here the same as when you walked in,” Anthony said. “This really is a life-changing experience. Just to see the smiles on the patients’ faces is so rewarding.”
She added: “Everybody connected to this project feels wonderful today.”
Dr. Soumit Basu, Northeast Regional Director of Geisinger’s cancer care, said Friday’s event was much more than a blanket and a note.
“It’s the show of support from the community for the patients,” Basu said. “It tells the patients that they are not alone in this — that there are people in the community who care about them and want to do what they can to make them feel better.”
Basu said receiving a blanket and a note improves a patient’s attitude, making them want to try harder to get better.
Ellen Rubesin, executive director of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society for Eastern Pennsylvania, said the goal of the project is to help patients.
“It’s very important to the patients to know that there are helping hands out there,” Rubesin said. “Getting a blanket and a personal note shows them that people care and that makes them feel good.”
Mary Thiemann, 88, of Hanover Township, was receiving treatment for a blood disorder when she received her blanket and personal note.
“I’m always cold, so this is good,” Thiemann said. “This is the kind of thing that I will always remember.”
Thiemann’s son, Bob, of Nanticoke, said his mother is a breast cancer survivor and she has been coming to Geisinger for eight years for treatment.
“She says it gets her out of the house,” he said. “She said it’s like a home atmosphere here. This was really nice to bring these blankets and notes to the patients.”
Reach Bill O’Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle.