For her 15th birthday, this teen gives to others

McKenna West with one of the care baskets she created for infusion patients at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

McKenna West with one of the care baskets she created for infusion patients at Providence Hood River Memorial Hospital.

Most 15-year-old teenage girls have a long list of birthday wishes; maybe the latest cell phone or trendy clothing item. That is not the case for McKenna West. On her 15th birthday this year, West wanted only one thing: to help ease the pain for patients undergoing chemotherapy.

West has been there. Not as a patient, but as the daughter of a mother battling breast cancer. She saw it all. She saw her mother suffer and fight, but ultimately succumb to the disease.

On her birthday this year, West brought four baskets of goodies to the Providence Hood River infusion center.

“I got the idea right before Christmas last year,” said West. “I was looking on Pinterest at cool baskets of items that might help people feel more comfortable when they are sitting in an infusion center. I put healthy snacks, personal care items that you might find in a spa and a little note from me. My hope is the patients will feel some relief.”

Most kids want to receive gifts on their birthday, but this bright-eyed teen wanted the gift of what it feels like to share love and hope. “I know my Mom is proud of me,” said West. “We used to always do things together that benefitted others, like choosing names off a giving tree at the holidays and buying gifts for families in need.”

West had many infusion nurses, pharmacy techs and other caregivers in tears as she told them about why she was bringing in these baskets of hope. “McKenna is such an inspiration,” said Mark Stanfield, pharmacist. “Even with her busy life at school, playing three sports and being part of a large family, McKenna wanted to remember her Mom and truly give to others. She provided special inspiration to four patients today and turned much of her own pain into hope for others.”

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