Dec 30, 2021 Sharing a Lot of Love for Monmouth Medical Center Cancer Patients

Alaina and Kathleen

Kathleen Antonakakis delivers baskets and boxes of comfort gift packs for MMC cancer patients to Alaina Bontales, Interim Director of Patient Care for BBR2.

Long Branch, NJ, December 30, 2021 – Holmdel resident Kathleen Antonakakis, a freshman at Notre Dame University, started her nonprofit “Share a Little Love, LLC, four years ago after losing her beloved grandfather to lung cancer.

Since then she has donated crossword puzzles, word searches, fleece blankets, stuffed animals, hygiene packages, and much more, and recently traveled to MMC while home on her winter break to deliver baskets and boxes of comfort items for MMC patients. The tagline she created for Share a Little Love is “Together we can help cancer patients feel loved.”

“Kathleen is a young girl from my church (Kimisis Greek Orthodox Church in Holmdel) who has been donating care packages to our oncology and COVID patients for about two years now,” says Alaina Bontales, Interim Director of Patient Care for BBR2. “She reached out to me and asked if I could be her point person for MMC so that she can donate care packages to the Oncology patients, as she had lost one of her own family members to cancer not long before she started her nonprofit. She saw what her family member had gone through and wanted to help others during their time of need.”

Kathleen is currently majoring in biology, and is considering a career in medicine, noting: “I just know I want to do something that helps people.”

On the Share a Little Love Web Site, Kathleen shares her story:

I have always loved helping my community, and I learned just how important volunteering was in eighth grade. For our final English assignment of the year, we were asked to develop a project that carried the theme of making the world a better place. I knew immediately that I would complete my project in honor of my grandpa as he had passed away from lung cancer. I combined my passion for basketball with my love for volunteering and organized a basketball clinic for kids with the "fee" being the donation of a comfort item to a cancer patient. I was ecstatic when discovering that each child brought more than one item. Additionally, after giving a speech to my church congregation about my project, I was able to collect over 250 items. They were donated to the J. Phillip Citta Regional Cancer Center, the facility where my grandpa received treatment. Since then, I have expanded my cause to other centers. I continued on my journey in assembling care packages, making encouragement cards, decorating expression journals, and simply providing the support cancer patients need.

When I first heard the news that my grandpa had lung cancer, I didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation: treatments, patient care, doctor visits. Seeing my grandpa suffer from such an aggressive disease made me feel helpless and lost. However, there was one visit that I recall vividly. He was receiving treatment at Phillip Citta for the first time, and he had brought home a small package which contained lotion, a crossword book, lemon candies, socks, and a small encouragement card. I saw his broad smile return as he read his card and organized all of his new items. This small act of love and encouragement continued to help him fight the battle, braver than ever. Although he lost his fight against cancer on November 6, 2014, I was determined to spread such love and encouragement to cancer patients all over, allowing them to see that they were not alone and they had the support of many to keep pursuing their fight against cancer.

Cancer is a disease that affects families all over. Not only does it have a large physical impact on one’s body, but cancer also affects one’s psychological state. The constant worry of the unknown future can cause many to lose their faith while fighting the battle. For this reason, it is our mission to help cancer patients by sharing hope, encouragement, and love to assist them along the way. When someone receives an encouragement card, expression journal, or care package, it makes a big difference in how a patient faces his or her day. Every cancer patient needs support while going through treatments and doctor visits, and we are willing to do that whenever need be. My Uncle John would say, "I have so many people fighting for me so I will do everything I can to fight as well. I am so blessed to have so much love around me." My friend John said, "you give me hope and the inspiration to keep fighting and praying and the pillow and journal go everywhere with me."

CONTACT: Kathy Horan
(732) 546-6317