NorthShore Patient a Warrior for Hope

Dina Sampras

Dina Sampras was excited about starting her first year of teaching. But unresolved and ongoing stomach pains landed the 28-year-old in NorthShore Evanston Hospital for tests. She was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. One tumor was blocking 90 percent of her colon, and she had two grapefruit-size tumors, one on each ovary. While undergoing treatment, she received a gift that would inspire her to start a program of her own.

Just a few weeks into teaching, she was forced to go on medical leave for five long months as she was treated with chemotherapy at NorthShore Kellogg Cancer Center. As her hair started to fall out, she shaved her head. While in treatment one day, a hospital volunteer came by and offered her a knit hat.

I was so touched by that kind gesture, but I was also reminded that I’m not the only one going through this. When she felt well enough, she started “Warriors for Hope.” She and her family members and other volunteers knit hats and scarves for patients going through treatment.

Sampras works in tech support for Apple, which has a program called “Benevity” that matches employee volunteer hours with a donation to their cause. Not long ago, Apple cut a check for $10,000 to support Kellogg Cancer Center. Sampras had logged 400 hours knitting hats for fellow patients. She estimates it costs about $10 to make five hats with the softest yarn available so that patients are unlikely to have any irritation or reaction.

At age 30 and two years in remission, Sampras’ website encourages cancer patients to share stories of hope. “What I learned in the first few weeks after being diagnosed is that people will rally for you in your time of need. I’m blessed to have so many people who supported me and wanted to see me get better.”

To learn more about Sampras’ work, visit warriorsforhope.com. To learn about other ways you can make an impact at Kellogg Cancer Center, please call Lisa Rietmann at 224.364.7230.

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