Tampa Bay area cancer survivor’s gift helps combat chill of chemotherapy

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When Dave Norris of Lakewood Ranch beat stage four cancer, after being told he only had six months to live, he felt he’d been given the gift of time. And it wasn’t time that he was going to waste.

“Every time we get another day, it’s a chance to make a difference,” Norris said.

Most important to him, he says, was making an immediate difference for those fighting cancer.

Dave Norris lost 40 pounds and experienced bone-chilling cold while undergoing chemotherapy.

Dave and his wife Bobbi thought about what would have made their experience better, as both patient and caregiver. Norris says that one of the most miserable aspects of his chemotherapy, which he did for eight months, was the bone-chilling cold.

Norris lost 40 pounds while undergoing chemotherapy. He says that along with his extremely low white blood cell count, the cold environment of a medical facility and the fluids being administered led to a feeling of cold that went right to his core.

The unrelenting sensation of cold caused Norris to dress in multiple layers, and even wear mittens in the middle of Florida’s hot summer.

His wife Bobbi recalls her husband wearing oven mitts while opening the refrigerator door to grab a bottle of water, only to realize the drink would make him even colder. Bobbi says she tried to make Dave feel more comfortable by tossing a blanket in the dryer.

“It was the one thing I could do for him that made a difference in a positive way,” she said.

And her husband says, that made all the difference.

“It gave me the opportunity to focus on something other than being cold,” he said. “It took away that distraction in my mind and I could start to think more about what I needed to do to beat cancer and stay ahead of cancer.”

That’s when the couple realized the most immediate way to make a difference was through warm blankets.

The already charitable couple shifted the focus of a foundation they’d previously established to one dedicated to raising money to purchase blanket warmers for the 50 Florida cancer specialists offices without them. The units average $3,000 to $8,000 each, depending on the size. 

So far, the couple has donated four of the warmers and expect to donate a fifth by the end of 2017. Their efforts have largely drawn on donations from family, friends and business associates.

Starting in 2018, they plan to expand their campaign’s social media effort in the hopes of raising the $250,000 needed to meet their goal.

“The Florida cancer specialists offices have 1.2 million patient visits each year,” Dave Norris said. “That’s 1.2 million opportunities to have a warm body and soul.”

To learn more about Dave and Bobbi Norris’ foundation, Make A Difference Today, visit this link.

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