By Dennis Seid/NEMS Daily Journal
It has been the kindness of friends – and strangers – who have inspired Emily Tickle Thomas to help others. First, a little background.
Born and raised in Tupelo, Thomas now lives in Collierville, Tenn., near Memphis.
Four years ago, she was diagnosed with cancer – oral squamous cell carcinoma. She also was pregnant with her fourth son.
She had successful surgery at the famed M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas, where she went back for checkups for two years.
That’s a long trip covering hundreds of miles.
During one of those visits, friends got her a gift card to a Houston-area Mexican restaurant. That gave Thomas an idea, which led to the creation of an organization that helps others who are going through what she experienced.
The Cancer Card Xchange – www.cancercardxchange.org – is a clearinghouse of sorts where gift cards are donated to cancer patients.
“I just started it in June, and we’ve given 107 gift cards,” Thomas said last week.
The exchange works like this: Cancer patients request a gift card to a restaurant, a store or some place special where they’d like to go. The Cancer Card Exchange takes the requests and matches them up with cards. There’s a small inventory of cards available, but Thomas also will seek out donors who can help fulfill requests.
“We get a lot of requests from children,” she said.
The maximum amount available is about $100, but the amount can be spread out over several gift cards.
For example, it might be $50 to a particular restaurant and $50 to Walmart.
And the exchange isn’t limited to cancer patients in the Midsouth.
“We’ve gotten requests and cards from New York, New Mexico, Canada and Hawaii,” she said.
Now cancer-free and the mother of four healthy sons, Thomas said the Cancer Card Xchange is a way to let other cancer patients “remember a bright spot along their journey.”
And with Christmas here, Thomas hopes people’s generosity will extend to her organization.
“So many gift cards are forgotten about or go unused, so I hope people will consider the Cancer Card Xchange,” she said. “And re-gifting works well, too.”
Donations can be made via PayPal on the website. The site also has links that allow people to order gift cards directly.
It’s not a money-making venture for Thomas, who’s gotten nonprofit status from Tennessee. Rather, the exchange is a gift of love she’s sharing.
And the season of giving shouldn’t be limited to Christmas – it should be shared year-round.
Cancer, as many of us are so painfully aware, plays no favorites. So whenever possible, we should do anything we can to brighten the lives of cancer patients and their families.
The Cancer Card Xchange is well worth a look.
Dennis Seid is the business editor of the Daily Journal. Contact him at (662) 678-1578 or firstname.lastname@example.org.