Bringing comfort to cancer patients

John and members of his care team

“When my grandfather was diagnosed with cancer, I had to do something to give back in his honor.”

Sandi Altergott’s grandfather, John Artinghelli, was diagnosed with leukemia in 2018.

“My grandfather was the most genuine man. My whole life, I knew him as a giver – of his time, his energy and his love. He, along with my grandmother, always volunteered and gave back to others in need.”

Sandi and her family wanted to find a way to support John and other cancer patients at the Advocate Sherman Cancer Institute in Elgin, so along with friends and family members, they reached out to a volunteer organization that he was a lifelong member of: the AT&T Pioneers. They asked them to sponsor a chemo comfort bag for $25.

The comfort bags are actually thermal totes that patients can use to safely bring their lunch and snacks with them during treatments. They’re filled with fleece throws, lip balm, hand sanitizer, body lotion, mints, tissues, puzzle books, journals, pens, bottles of water and small fleece prayer blankets. The blankets are handmade by volunteers and include a personal message of encouragement.

Thanks to the generosity of their friends, family and the Pioneers, they were able to donate 60 comfort bags.

“I have never been prouder to be called his granddaughter,” said Sandi. “And I’m so happy that he was able to be the one to give out the very first chemo comfort bag.”

(L-R) John’s wife, Joan, and granddaughter, Sandi

Sadly, John lost his battle in June 2019.

Honoring John’s memory

A local chapter of the AT&T Pioneers recently took on the chemo comfort bag project to honor John’s legacy. On August 15, 2019, Pioneers, John’s wife and Sandi presented an additional 60 comfort bags to the Sherman Cancer Institute. It was a very emotional day!

“I know he is proud and grateful that this project is something that we will be able to continue in his memory,” said Sandi.

Now, other Pioneer clubs are participating in the project and donating in their own communities to let cancer patients know they’re not alone and that volunteers care.

Thank you to Sandi, John’s family and friends, and the AT&T Pioneers for supporting cancer patients at Advocate Sherman Cancer Institute in Elgin during their difficult journey.

To learn how you can support the Advocate Sherman Cancer Institute and the chemo comfort bag project, please contact José Macias at 224-783-3021 or