Coral Burger has one wish this holiday season—to help as many people as possible have a Merry Christmas. Coral knows how difficult the holidays can be during cancer treatment. She watched her mom go through it.
“She was the hardest working, best person ever. When she was sick, she still worked so hard to bring us a great Christmas, even though she felt terrible,” Coral says. “My mom would never ask for help, but I just silently wished that some anonymous person would step forward and help us.”
Coral’s mom passed away from breast cancer in July of 2016. Out of that tragic loss, grew Coral’s deep desire to spread Christmas joy to cancer survivors in her community.
Coral and her husband made the decision to take all the money that Coral earned between August and December each year and give it to patients at Willamette Valley Cancer Institute to help make their holidays a little brighter.
In 2016, the Burgers were able to assist 11 patients and their families with cash gifts, including a woman Coral will never forget.
“I told her my mom’s story, then I handed her an envelope and said, ‘I hope it helps,'” Coral recalls. “She opened it up and all the cash fell in her lap. Her eyes filled with tears and she said, ‘I just told my kids that we weren’t going to have Christmas this year. And now we will.'”
Coral’s goodwill efforts continued this holiday season when she visited the infusion room at WVCI. With guidance from the cancer center’s support services team, she quietly introduced herself to patients as they sat receiving their treatment and asked if she could share a story with them.
“She told us about her mom and her battle with cancer,” says Robert Wimpy, whose wife Nadine is being treated for two types of breast cancer. “Her story is similar to what we are dealing with—with kids at home, there are sacrifices that have to be made to make sure treatment goes as planned and that life still goes on as normally as it can for everybody in the household.”
Coral asked Nadine and Robert if she could give them a present, and when they opened the small gift box, they discovered the cash inside. The couple, who have children and grandchildren, were deeply touched by the gesture.
“Just having the opportunity to meet Coral and experience her generosity was a gift in itself,” Nadine says. “Knowing that there are people out there who care and just give of themselves to help others is wonderful.”
This goodwill effort is a family affair for Coral and her husband. Their three small children, ages 4, 3 and 1, helped stuff the cash into the gift boxes, giving Coral an opportunity to share with them about their grandmother—their Nana—and why this gesture is so important.
“I tell my kids that there are people who are “Nana sick,” and sometimes when you’re Nana sick, it’s hard to work, so mommy and daddy want to help. I told them that we give all that we can so that other people can have a merry Christmas, too,” Coral says.
Coral and her family don’t do any of this for recognition. They do it to make life just a little easier on those facing a difficult diagnosis. And it brings Coral comfort.
“These patients are dealing with so much. I just want to make things easier for them in some small way. And by giving to others, it feels like I’m giving to my mom.”