FLOWER MOUND, Texas -- Tara Poles has never been through chemotherapy. She hasn't lost her hair, or sat for hours of infusions. But Poles can't forget how she felt, when she learned a childhood friend did.
"She was just so skinny, and her hair was gone, she always had such long beautiful hair," said Poles, of the girl she grew up with in Minnesota, who is doing well during her fight with cancer. "It was just stunning I guess! And it's just like, I want to do something."
That something became 'chemo bags' back in her new home of North Texas. Poles sells Thirty-One, and buys the totes from the company. She then filled the first few with gifts from friends, family and co-workers.
"I put blankets, lip balm, lotion, hand sanitizer, word puzzles, pen, pencil, candy, gum," she said, while emptying the contents from one of the bags.
She then put the word out on Facebook, where bible studies, Girl Scout troops and even strangers offered to help keep them full. "These people of Flower Mound who just give me money, they don't know me," she said. "And they're just trusting because they want to do good too!"
Poles insists she is just the middleman, but she's the one who spreads out the bags on the floor of their office, manages the donations, loads them up in her car and drives them to Texas Oncology - Flower Mound. WFAA accompanied her on what Poles said was either her fourth or fifth delivery.
"After today, it'll be 262 bags to the clinic," she said.
Poles isn't in it for the praise. She usually just drops off the bags and leaves, letting the staff do the fun part of the delivery, buut not on this day. Poles got instant feedback when she handed a bag to a grateful Lisa Cagle.
"To have thought of everything that a patient would need and not have gone through it yourself is heartwarming that you find that love in your heart to want to do that," said Cagle, to Poles.
Cagle is fighting breast cancer and Non-Hodgkin's lymphoma and happily donned the white knit cap she found in her bag. Also inside was a handwritten note from Poles.
"'Prayers of health and healing and comfort,'" said Cagle, reading from the letter. "I mean, she's covered it all!"
Poles doesn't know what it feels like to sit in a chair getting chemo for hours, but with her generosity and the help of neighbors, she's found a way to make being there feel better.
If you'd like to help donate items or money to make Poles' next delivery a reality, contact her via email at email@example.com.