Over the last few weeks it's been a time of reflection for the Big Hug Box community as we remember our wonderful Ambassador, Tracy Morel who we lost at the beginning of May.
There were many reasons for sharing this story with you today. Whilst it is an inspirational story about friendship and happiness, it, is also about making the most of our life through creating special moments . At The Big Hug Box we have been exceptionally proud to create magical moments through our Random Hug of Kindness Delivery.
Lisa Greissl, Newcastle based, wife and mother of two, understands the human desire to show compassion following her own shock diagnosis of a rare and malignant tumor in late 2015. Lisa states that "whilst the desire to be compassionate may be there, finding ways to show compassion can sometimes be challenging".
Based on this realisation, in February 2018, The Big Hug Box was founded as a way of enabling Australians to express care and compassion to those facing the challenges of cancer.
While loved ones could purchase a Big Hug for someone they knew going through treatment, Lisa identified an opportunity for Australians to also be able to donate a Big Hug as a random act of kindness towards others who would benefit from receiving an act of compassion. What emerged was what Lisa of The Big Hug Box termed a "Random Hug of Kindness" or RHoK Box.
This “call to compassion” resulted in organisations and individuals from all over Australia donating Random Hug of Kindness Boxes. With over 40 RHoK boxes donated in the first delivery, packing commenced to prepare the RHoK Boxes for delivery to the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, a comprehensive cancer centre where Founder Lisa had received her treatment.
In sharing the amazing success of the campaign with Chris O'Brien Lifehouse, Lisa explained to Lorainne Brecard, Volunteer Services that this wonderful delivery was a result of very generous individuals wanting to show compassion to those they didn’t know but wanted to support during treatment. Lorainne was very quick to announce who would be the first recipient of a RHoK Box, Tracy Morel.
Tracy was 34 and a Chrondrosarcoma patient from Newcastle. Continually being put through challenges of cancer, Tracy travelled up to 2 times a week on the (almost) 6 hour round trip to receive her treatment at the Chris O'Brien Lifehouse. She had gone through major surgery and as a result was now an amputee, but had to continue chemotherapy and radiation treatment as a result of metastases.
At the time of delivery of the RHoK box, Lorainne explained to Lisa that Tracy wasn't currently at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse but was at home in Newcastle resting. To the amazement of our team, it was the very same place where The Big Hug Box operations were based. A catch up was quickly planned in Newcastle between Lisa and Tracy.
As Lisa prepared to leave the Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, Lorainne also explained Tracy's prognosis was uncertain and provided some comforting words - "Do not try and think about the outcome; think about the journey that they are on and the positive impact you will be making right at that moment with this random act".
When it came time for Lisa and Tracy to meet, there was an instant connection. It was clear that Tracy had a vibrant and energetic personality as she went straight into sharing all the amazing things about her life; how she was into music, how she loved makeup and all her aspirations for the future and how much she had done for others including organising a charity fundraiser to build awareness and funds for sarcoma research.
As the Random Act of Kindness of Box was handed to Tracy it no longer felt like a Random Act of Kindness but rather a connected friendship filled with understanding, based on Lisa and Tracy shared experiences, funny stories and frustrations about cancer.
Drawn to Tracy’s positivity and determination to support others, the team at The Big Hug Box were equally thrilled as Tracy agreed to become an Ambassador. Tracy’s role as Ambassador became an important asset to the charity as she helped pack boxes, assisted in composing mindfulness sessions and shared her stories. She made sure that no one walked the path of treatment for cancer alone and encouraged the community to help others facing cancer through sharing her RHoK Box story despite her own ongoing challenges.
In February 2019 a celebration was held in Newcastle to celebrate and acknowledge all of the important supporters and suppliers of The Big Hug Box. It was here that Tracy, despite a shortness in breath, gave further insight to the challenges she was facing. She also shared her powerful voice through song not letting any guest hint to her struggles.
Tracy’s approach to life, despite her challenges, inspired so many. Life came first and then cancer second. It was never going to slow down her plans and goals. This enthusiasm and love for life was retained until the end of April where Tracy’s breathing deteriorated rapidly and she was transferred to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to receive the very best of treatment from whom she also called family.
Despite Tracy’s determination to live, cancer had taken over any ability to choose and sadly, on the 2nd May 2019 passed away.
From this friendship and Ambassador was an already amazing star, who became even more so empowered to share her shining light with others. Tracy's outlook on life was contagious and inspired others to consider how they chose to approach life.
In sharing Tracy's story today our Big Hug Box team hope encourage others to become part of our giving community. Whether you are an individual or an organisation, you can purchase a Big Hug Box for someone that you care about or donate a Random Hug of Kindness Box.
Whilst our next delivery is planned for July 2019 we are busy planning for RHoK 2020 in conjuction with Random Act of Kindness Day. We have amazing plans and we hope you can join us. If you would like to discuss organising a RHoK Box delivery event to your local cancer centre you can do so by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you for your continued and ongoing support of donated RHoK Boxes. Our small act with such a big impact!