Widower honors late wife of 38 years with 'Chemo Totes' to help cancer patients

Image 1 of 7

A widower who lost his wife last year returned to the hospital where she spent her last days to help others going through a similar journey she did.

On Monday, to mark one year since his wife passed away, Mark Walling made rounds at the James Graham Brown Cancer Center in Louisville, Kentucky to deliver care packages he's calling "Chemo Totes."

The bags are filled with items like hard candy, leggings, hand sanitizer, lip balm, socks, and soap.

But perhaps the most valuable item that comes along with the kit is the message to patients that they are not alone. 

"Some of them are a little overwhelmed at the support they're getting from someone they don't even know," explained David McArthur, senior manager of media relations for the James Graham Brown Cancer Center.

Walling's wife, Tracey, entered the center in January of 2015, after being diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia.

Walling says for more than eight months, she fought a hard battle. She passed away on August the 21st last year.

To honor Tracey, the Walling family along with friend Shilo Smaldone started a drive to collect items to fill 30 care packages for those undergoing chemotherapy and other cancer treatments.

But what they ended up with far exceeded their expectations. They gathered enough items for almost 140 totes.

The initial idea for the care packages was conceived along with Tracey, said Walling. They had plans to deliver the totes as a celebration once she recovered.

After losing his wife, Walling and Smaldone decided to go forward with the plan to honor the woman they lost. 

Many of the care kits are tagged with a dedication to Tracey. But others who donated items for the bags added names of their own loved ones who have fought cancer.

While the Chemo Totes offer useful supplies, for many it goes way beyond that, hospital officials said. 

They also bring comfort and support to patients going through the difficult process of cancer treatment.

Walling tells KTVU Fox 2 that he is now thinking of ways to do a similar type of donation drive for patients at the cancer center on a regular basis. 

For him, delivering the totes to the hospital where his wife spent so many of her final days offered some healing. 

He and his wife were together for 38 years, and he says, "I would've done it for another 38."