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Sisterhood Of The Traveling (Cancer) Coat

This is the story of six women and one thrift shop coat. Call it the sisterhood of the traveling coat, after the fictional teens who shared a pair of pants. But in this real-life story, these women pass the coat around, as they are treated for cancer.

The women met in January at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind Body Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, where they were attending a group there to help them cope.

Anything that you can possibly believe that helps you though this horrific time, you try.–Vicci Recckio

Then the women became friends, dubbing themselves the “Benson Babes.” Here & Now saw their story in The Boston Globe Magazine.

It was written by Cynthia Thomas, who credits the coat with helping her fight her brain fog and go back to writing.

Here & Now had the opportunity to speak with Anne-Marie Chang, Elaine Ducharme and Vicci Recckio, members of the “Benson Babes,” about their experiences with the coat.

“Well at first I thought, you know it’ll be something that I can put on and I’ll smile just thinking about the women because that’s what it reminds me of immediately. It’s like I’m right back there in the meeting,” Chang told Here & Now.

But then the coat started taking on a deeper symbol for the friends, as they noticed it seemed to act as a good luck charm.

“Anything that you can possibly believe that helps you though this horrific time, you try. And it’s a coat, you know, it wasn’t something way out there, it was a special, warm coat. How could that hurt anyone? You have to bring the ‘Benson Babes’ with you, and the only way you can do that is through the coat,” said Recckio.

Since we recorded our conversation with Chang, Ducharme and Recckio, they lost a member of the sisterhood: Pamela Bradford.

Guests

  • Anne-Marie Chang, Elaine Ducharme and Vicci Recckio, friends united through their cancer treatment by a coat.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Pam Bradford brought this cake to the group's last meeting as Massachusetts General Hospital.
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Pam Bradford brought this cake to the group's last meeting as Massachusetts General Hospital.
Anne-Marie Chang (A.K.A. Alicia Keys). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
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Anne-Marie Chang (A.K.A. Alicia Keys). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
Cynthia Thomas (A.K.A. Diane Keaton). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
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Cynthia Thomas (A.K.A. Diane Keaton). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
Elaine Ducharme (A.K.A. Susan Sarandon) (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
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Elaine Ducharme (A.K.A. Susan Sarandon) (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
Maxine Nogard (A.K.A. Halle Berry). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
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Maxine Nogard (A.K.A. Halle Berry). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
Pamela Bradford (A.K.A. Melissa McCarthy). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
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Pamela Bradford (A.K.A. Melissa McCarthy). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
Vicci Recckio (A.K.A. Isabella Rossellini). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)
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Vicci Recckio (A.K.A. Isabella Rossellini). (Photo by Webb Chappell, courtesy of The Boston Globe Magazine)

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