As Jessica Bohl’s husband lay in a hospital bed fighting through the initial days and weeks of his surprise stage four cancer diagnosis at age 50, she felt even more powerless than him.
“It was so hard to know how to be helpful and what to do other than just sit there,” Ms. Bohl said.
Ultimately, she found some comfort being able to provide him with items he wanted but couldn’t get at the hospital — Vitamin D to make up for the lack of sunlight, natural probiotics, essential oils believed to promote better circulation.
Traumatic a time as it was, the experience supplied her with an idea that she might be able to develop a sort of care package that caretakers and family members could use to engage with and comfort their loved ones.
“I really wanted to come up with things he would request or things that worked well for us and then put them more into a gift package,” she said in a recent interview at the Springfield Township home she shares with her husband and their two sons.
She kicked around the idea with friends but put it on the back burner until last year, when her mother mentioned the idea to her brother, a neurosurgeon working in Arizona. He in turn encouraged Ms. Bohl to pursue it, even suggesting it might fit into a patient satisfaction program at the Barrows Neurological Institute, one of the nation’s leading neurosurgical centers.
“That really motivated me to actually put something real together. I went out to Phoenix and presented a prototype and the doctors really loved it. It was really well received,” she said.
After making some tweaks, the center ordered 150 boxes and her new business, Medsalve Co., was off the ground.
“It’s been great. She basically took a dire, horrible situation and turned it into something positive and life affirming,” said her husband, Drew Naprawa. “It’s really inspiring for that kind of situation.”
The company’s main offering is the Drew Box, a sturdy-looking container that’s stuffed with a moisturizing oils, supplement pills, a sleep mask, lip balm, lotions, candles, and a number of simple yoga stretches that Ms. Bohl said can be done from a patient’s bed.
About half the items — including the lip balm, essential oils, and candle — are handmade by Ms. Bohl and her mother, Lisa Holman. The box sells for $99.95, though some items are available for individual purchase. There’s also a smaller version of the box that sells for $49.95. They can be ordered online at www.thedrewbox.com.
Ms. Bohl said the items are meant to give relief to a patient as well as provide caregivers things they can do with a patient.
“A big part of the boxes is to give the caregiver tools to interact with the person who’s sick and feel helpful and effective and have something to do other than bring flowers and say how do you feel,” she said.
Her products are also somewhat of a bridge between mainstream medicine and alternative medicine, something of which Mr. Naprawa is a big proponent.
When he was diagnosed with a rare form of lymphoma, Mr. Naprawa was given six months to a year to live. While he’s not cancer free, at 5½ years on, he’s blown past that initial prognosis with a combination of mainstream and alternative therapies.
“Just watching her develop the box and go forward with it, for me it’s been a healthy thing,” he said.
Ms. Bohl has begun selling boxes to individuals and is working to connect with more care organizations. She recently shipped a number of boxes to an Alzheimer’s group in southwest Florida and is eager to see how patients in Arizona rate their experience with the product.
Contact Tyrel Linkhorn at [email protected] or 419-724-6134.
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