There are few things more devastating in life than a cancer diagnosis. That “c” word is powerful enough to topple buildings, break down walls, and irrevocably alter lives. No matter the outcome—whether that coveted remission is achieved or remains an elusive dream—the journey is laced with challenges and obstacles no one ever expects to deal with. For the Speier family from Southern California, a cancer diagnosis changed everything. It also inspired and encouraged. Now 3.5 years past an initial diagnosis and just over two years since a family lost a husband and father, Angelina Speier is using her experience to help others. She and her husband created a company called Packed Kits, and their journey is impacting lives and helping people face the unthinkable.
When Angel was 12 years old at church camp, she met a boy named Kevin Speier. The two became fast friends and eventual pen pals. The teenaged Kevin even kept all the letters Angel sent him. Years later, they had a surprise reunion in San Diego, and as Angel puts it, “The rest was history.” The longtime lovers married, had a son, and then a daughter. Their love story was going as planned, until it wasn’t. Kevin was diagnosed with stage 4 squamous cell carcinoma of the tongue in 2015. The “c” word invaded their lives, and the family’s “normal” drastically changed.
We took a small break from social media, but we are back with a vengeance! Here to kick cancers ass one kit at a time….
Surgery, radiation, chemo, and emergency hospital trips took over. What many people don’t realize is that every cancer diagnosis requires a complete shift in thinking and routine. You learn the ins and outs of hospital stays, how to feed yourself between busy days of doctors visits, how to pass time in waiting rooms, how to care for children even in the midst of the worst days, and so much more. Angel and Kevin had a loving support system of people asking, “What can we do to help?” There were gas cards, meal trains, flowers, and cards, but the best and most useful gift was something they never even knew they needed.
Angel’s sister researched how she could best help. She found products that were deemed necessities for anyone going through chemotherapy, and she collected it all into a convenient package. She sent it to her family to help make hospital stays and chemo treatments easier, and it quickly became a staple object for both Kevin and Angel. The “chemo kit,” as they called it, was always by the front door, always packed and ready to go. The simple concept of having everything in a convenient kit was exactly what they needed to dampen the chaos the cancer diagnosis had caused.
Why not fill our bag with all the essentials for Chemo ? Better yet, let us do that for you! We've Packed it all! …
According to Angel, the thought that other people would also benefit from a prepacked cancer kit was an idea that “fell from the sky and hit me, like Chicken Little when a piece of the sky falls.” The same night she had the idea, she and Kevin started developing what is now Packed Kits, a company that makes kits of everything patients and their families need to get through the chaos of a cancer diagnosis. Five months of planning later, the company launched, and they’ve been growing ever since. Angel told Life As Mama,
“We are practical, real people. We don’t sugar coat, we like nice things, we are sarcastic, and we have been through hell and back… and then back to hell… and then back … and then back and forth. It’s a funny thing when you realize you aren’t the only one going through this… and so we thought, ‘Why the hell not give a gift someone will actually use?’ Something that we loved and needed? And why not make it funny and real and cool all at the same time? And ya, let’s do it so we answer the questions, ‘What can I do?”‘
Took the day off to go to the zoo! #headandneckcancer #bestgiftever #packedkits #cancersucks #chemo #fuckcancer #santabarbara #santabarbarazoo #cure
Each item included in a Packed Kit is specifically chosen to help someone either stay comfortable during or after a treatment, keep them occupied during long wait times, or make simple things like sleeping or showering a little easier. The Packed Chemo Kit includes warm socks, gloves, a beanie, water bottle, first-aid kit, lip balm, lotion, mints, and a whole lot more. Each item comes with a label explaining exactly why that specific product is included in the kit. Besides the big Packed Chemo Kit, the company has also expanded to include other products, like the Kick Cancer’s Booty! kit made just for kids.
In addition to providing products that help families battle cancer, Packed Kits also donates a portion of their profits to important organizations that played a role in Kevin and Angel’s personal journey through cancer. When asked how she chooses which organizations to donate to, Angel said,
“We have actually changed a little this past year. We realized that our small dollars don’t make as big of a dent in some of the bigger charities… yet… so we thought smaller. Find organizations that were just like us, grass-roots and local. The Santa Barbara community helped us more than anyone could ever know. So we keep it small and local now.”
Packed Kits currently donates to Organic Soup Kitchen, which donated over 100,000 meals last year to cancer patients, as well as Gals Give Back, and the Santa Barbara City College Nursing Program from which Kevin graduated. Angel also said,
“Our goal, as we grow, is to create a portion of our company that funds a family who loses the bread-winner of their family. It was one of those things that hits home for me. We would be on the streets if we didn’t have the support that we did, and I know that we were lucky and blessed for that.”
After an intense 16-month-battle, Kevin passed away on February 15, 2017. His family is inspired by his journey, and they’re focused on helping others through Packed Kits. If a loved one was recently diagnosed with cancer and you find yourself asking the question, “What can I do to help?” a Packed Kit could be your answer. Visit their website to learn more about their story and view their products.
In the words of Angel, “Peace, love, and f*ck cancer.”