A ministry inspired by the battles of three special women is now helping cancer patients locally at Providence Hospital.

Kristianne Stewart, the founder of Compassion that Compels, watched as a sister and two sisters-in-law were diagnosed with cancer in the span of just a few years. She wanted to do something to help others in similar situations and introduced a non-profit organization to help female cancer patients through tough battles.

Stewart donated 40 of the organization’s signature “passion bags” to patients at Providence Hospital’s Cancer Center Tuesday. It was her second trip to the hospital in as many months.

“There is a real need in treatment centers for the items in the bag,” she said, while holding the pink straps of a bag with the phrase “Jesus Makes My Heart Glad.”

Items in each of the bags included a blanket, a notebook, pen, a mug, tea, a journal, a devotional book, Chick-Fil-A gift cards and a letter.

Stewart met with a number of patients receiving chemotherapy treatments Tuesday. One of those patients, Mary Hawkins, said she has never given up faith in God, despite a negative diagnosis.

“I was only given six months to live and that was a year and a half ago,” said the Moss Point, Miss. resident. “Every day I wake up I thank God for another day.”

Mary Hawkins holds a blanket she received from Compassion that Compels, while founder Kristianne Stewart, kneeling, and volunteer Michele Whittington speak with her.

Photo/Dale Liesch / Lagniappe

Mary Hawkins holds a blanket she received from Compassion that Compels, while founder Kristianne Stewart, kneeling, and volunteer Michele Whittington speak with her.

Hawkins even offered to volunteer for the group because she has not been allowed to return to work.

Uriah native Michele Whittington, who was diagnosed with both breast and colon cancer last year, is now a volunteer with Compassion that Compels.  She was glad to be able to give to patients Tuesday what she had previously received.

“It’s exciting,” she said. “It’s just nice to have someone come in with a cheery smile.”

Whittington said, in her experience, the blanket was the most practical item in the bag, although the devotional book has proved to be the most important.

Dr. Stephen Sawrie, with Providence Radiation Oncology, requested bags for his patients.

“The items in these bags meet the needs that we as physicians don’t always think about,” he said.

Sawrie said journaling was especially important to help patients write down and then understand more of the medical jargon they hear on a regular basis.

To learn more about “Compassion That Compels” or to donate please visit the website 

at compassionthatcompels.org.