How Kimberly Fink Delivers Hope to Cancer Patients
as told to jessica green| January 3, 2015 |
Kimberly Fink is bringing comfort to cancer patients, one gift box at a time.
Kimberly Fink with son Oliver, in 2014.
“I was 32 when I was diagnosed with a rare, aggressive form of uterine cancer, which is very unusual for somebody that age. It was a long process to get diagnosed because I just couldn’t believe that it would be cancer. The whole treatment process lasted about a year—chemotherapy and radiation. During that time, I was looking for things to inspire me, and I realized that there’s a real gap in the market for quality items that [can really empower] cancer [patients undergoing treatment].
When I was declared in remission, I was working with Styled Creative, a prop styling and event business I had cofounded. Soon, I felt like my heart wasn’t in it, so I started thinking, What could I do? I wanted to use the skills I had acquired over the last 10 years working in design and event planning while doing something for the cancer community. I thought about my time during treatment and realized how hard it was for my friends to find a way to support me. You’ll hear a lot of cancer survivors say, ‘The people I thought would be there for me really weren’t.’ And it’s not that they don’t love you, it’s just that they don’t understand how to support you. With this in mind, I came to realize that the subscription-based model was perfect for this type of project. It was something that a patient could receive every month that would remind them that their friends and family are thinking about them. It’s also a good tool for the person who’s giving the gift because they can just go online, order the box, send their love, and relax.
Contents of the monthly boxes range from practical water bottles and comfortable socks to inspirational messages.
I started working on Treatmint Box about a year ago. I wanted to build it right from the beginning so I could really understand the distribution and the fulfillment process. We launched the boxes in May ( June saw the first distributed box), and October marked our fifth box produced. We distribute our boxes through our distribution center (we have over 250 subscribers thus far) and each one is processed at our local warehouse, where a special message from the recipient’s friend or family member is inserted into each box before it ships to them.
Thinking of what to include inside the box, I knew I wanted it to be a source of inspiration. Every item is related to either comfort—anything from fuzzy socks to a good facial moisturizer—or encouragement—like a tote bag with an inspirational message or a journal to help keep positive thoughts. I’m always searching for new local products, too: We recently featured Hand in Hand Soap, a Philadelphia-based bath and body company, and we are also working on a collaboration with retailer Duke & Winston.
Kimberly Fink came up with the idea for Treatmint Box during her own treatment for uterine cancer.
We also have some larger partnerships that we’re working on right now, such as a collaboration with Livestrong, which we’re currently in discussions with. I’m hoping that we can start doing some amazing things with local hospitals, as well, especially ones that serve low-income families. I went through treatment at the University of Pennsylvania Abramson Cancer Center. I had a really great experience there, with so many caring doctors and nurses. We’re also going to start doing boxes for newly diagnosed patients.
Treatmint has received a lot of national interest lately, which has been great. We gave a box to Amy Robach from Good Morning America (who was recently diagnosed with breast cancer). It was amazing to get a handwritten thank-you note from her.
Fink and husband Owen shaved each other’s heads during her chemotherapy treatment.
In some ways, this has become more than a gift box service, but a tool to connect people. One of my goals is to form a community around the Treatmint website where people can support each other and talk, and help curate the products. Right now, our Facebook page has been the source of encouragement. We have a big community on there.
It’s difficult to describe how isolating and alone it feels when you’re diagnosed with cancer. It’s the funniest experience because people constantly surround you—you always have doctors and nurses and family and friends around—but you’re in your head all the time thinking about your own mortality. I think having had that experience personally has been instrumental in creating this product. I want the Treatmint boxes to comfort people who are going through what I went through and let them know that there’s a whole group of us survivors out there who are thinking about them constantly.”