RAMSEY, N.J. — A water bottle to hydrate. Headphones to unwind. A bookmark to escape.
Ridgewood native Amanda Fredericks stored those essential items and several others inside of a purple, waterproof bag that, in spring 2015, usually remained tucked away in a corner of her Ramsey home.
But every other Wednesday, Fredericks — who was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer that February — loaded the bag into her car and headed toward the hospital for chemotherapy treatment.
When she returned, the bag went back to its rightful place in the corner — where it remained untouched for two week stretches.
But now, Fredericks is the one packing the Necessity Bags with fellow survivor Megan Leto. They posted the bags for sale online this month.
“I was fortunate in that I went through cancer pretty unscathed,” said Fredericks, who spent 16 weeks in chemotherapy before undergoing a bi-lateral mastectomy and reconstructive surgeries.
“I was able to bang it out in nine months and I think the reason for that is so that I can help other people heal and get through the process.”
The bags themselves are made by Ridgewood’s Kim Vaccarella, who operates out of Wyckoff and invented the washable, tip-proof BOGG Bags to replace her family’s beach bags.
Fredericks packs each one with an aluminum water bottle, a journal, a bookmark, headphones, a cotton beanie, soothing oils, throat lozenges, hot/cold packs, organic lotion and — in the large bag — a cozy blanket.
She plans on donating 20 percent of the revenue to grassroots organizations four times a year.
The bags are intended to be gifts, Fredericks said. A gift from once-helpless supporters to patients or a gift from patients to themselves.
“For people who have nothing, they can give this,” she said. “For yourself when you don’t know what’s coming and you’re feeling scared and alone.
“It gives you armor.”