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Local high school student’s service project benefits Massey patients: ‘There are people loving and supporting them.’

Feb 08, 2024

Becky Massey (left) will distribute the headbands crocheted by Shrisha Ramiya to patients. Becky Massey (left) will distribute the headbands crocheted by Shrisha Ramiya to patients.

Shrisha Ramiya entered the Goodwin Research Laboratory at VCU Massey Comprehensive Cancer Center on Feb. 2 with a smile on her face and four gift bags in her arms.

Headbands made by Shrisha Ramiya

Ramiya, a freshman at J.R. Tucker High School in Henrico County, dropped off more than two dozen headbands she crocheted for patients in active treatment. Ramiya chose Massey as the beneficiary of a project called “Creativity, Action and Service” (CAS), which is part of her school’s International Baccalaureate Program.

“Although I wasn’t able to meet the patients themselves, I hope they enjoy their headbands, each made with love,” said Ramiya. “I would want them to know that there are people loving and supporting them through tough times.”

Becky Massey, patient advocate and Advisory Board chair at the cancer center, expressed her appreciation for Ramiya’s thoughtfulness.

“It’s going to be extraordinarily meaningful for patients to know that someone cares about them,” Massey told Ramiya. “When a patient receives something handmade like this and finds out it is from a young woman like you, it’s really going to be something extra special for them. It already means so much to have a warm head, and this will help them so much.”

Ramiya’s relationship with the cancer center began a little more than a year ago during a tour with Holman Middle School’s Technology Student Association.

Robert A. Winn, M.D. meets with students from Holman Middle School last year

“Ever since coming into Massey last year, I knew it was a place filled with love and determination,” Ramiya described. “When I was asked to do a volunteering project, my mind instantly thought about helping out the patients at Massey. From my perspective, CAS truly allowed me to reconnect with the wonderful people at Massey and share my love for crochet with them.”

Of the Jan. 27, 2023 visit, Ramiya remembered, “I was truly mesmerized. I enjoyed taking a tour of the lab and looking at the cancer cell through a microscope. All in all, this experience was one I will remember for years, and the staff at Massey was very welcoming to our team.”

During the tour, Ramiya and her classmates had an opportunity to speak with Robert A. Winn, M.D., director and Lipman Chair in Oncology at Massey, and to learn more about the work taking place in his lab. Winn’s research focuses on the molecular mechanisms and novel therapeutic approaches for lung cancer, while also investigating the confluence between societal and biological factors which may lead to disparities.

Ramiya is thankful to have a better understanding of cancer and why advocacy is an important part of the equation. She has a message for patients who receive the headbands she crocheted.

“Stay strong and confident!”

Written by: Amy Lacey

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