survivor liz benditt

Throughout October, we will be sharing She’s a Survivor stories: five #motherrunners whose lives have been changed by breast cancer; hopefully the perspective and ideas they share will benefit others who are going through similar situations.

Next up: Liz Benditt, a mom of two, who, over the past decade, has dealt with four different cancer diagnoses (melanoma, thyroid, basal cell, and breast). It was the ladder bout that was the scariest—and opened Benditt’s eyes to the emotional and physical struggles attached to the disease.

Using her unique perspective as a cancer warrior as well as her background in marketing, Benditt launched Balm Box, a gift company offering speciality care packages for those undergoing chemo and radiation, last year. Now four years cancer-free, Benditt is optimistic that her battles are behind her—and has turned her focus to supporting others who have gone through the same.

Date of Diagnosis: October, 2017

On dealing with multiple cancer diagnoses: “Having four cancers condensed over the course of eight years really makes you say, ‘why?’,” says Benditt. “It’s not like I lived under a radio tower growing up. It was all just really bad luck.”

While each treatment was different and of various levels of invasiveness, one common thread among them was the need for Benditt to be her own best advocate. “What I’ve learned through this is that not all treatment plans are the same. There is some art that goes with the science as far as flexibility and what you’re willing to put your body through and your choices,” she says. “There is something to be said about being an active participant in your own care. Mentally, it’s enormously helpful.”

On painful radiation side effects: Benditt’s breast cancer was caught early at her routine mammogram, and treated with a lumpectomy and radiation treatment, which, at first, she was relieved and grateful for. “I blew it off like it was no big deal, like it was just an X-ray I got on my way to work,” she says of the radiation. But it was after a 10K she ran two weeks into her treatment that she began to experience painful side effects. “Unfortunately, my fair skin did not react well, and what started as chafing turned into very painful skin sensitivity and irritation in my armpit through the edge of my breast,” says Benditt. “Just the weight of my shirt hurt me. It turned into months of agony.”

On discovering a need for other cancer patients: When Benditt was going through the painful effects of radiation, she struggled to find simple products that could offer some relief. “I was scrambling for all of this stuff, like small ice packs, and a pillow that would take the weight of my arm off my chest. The oncology office doesn’t give you this, none of it is prescribed, and I kept thinking, there has to be a better way.”

Enter the pandemic, and Benditt found herself working from home with more time on her hands. She fleshed out a business plan for the Balm Box, and sent out a survey to friends and family who have walked their own cancer journeys. She received 600 responses. “The results validated my entire experience. 70 percent of adults have purchased a gift for a cancer patient within the last 18 months, and they’re mostly buying flowers and food,” says Benditt. “But cancer patients really need functional gifts. There is a real disconnect between what people want and what they’re receiving.”

balm box

On the future of Balm Box: One year post-launch, Benditt is thrilled the way Balm Box has taken off. “We have sent out hundreds and hundreds of boxes,” she says, adding that she plans to expand the line from mostly breast cancer-focused boxes to various types of cancer and other ailments. Says Benditt, “We want to make this an ideal way of sending love to those who need it the most.”

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