Published on September 16, 2021

Cancer Survivor Margaret Neff

Margaret Neff

Margaret Neff

Making People Smile

Cancer survivor Margaret Neff of Concord has fond memories of making small holiday gifts for friends and family with her mother. They made people smile.

After her mother died in 2018, Margaret continued the tradition in her memory, bringing smiles to hundreds of patients and caregivers at Concord Hospital Payson Center for Cancer Care.

Margaret knows first-hand that little things have a big impact for patients during care, so when she began feeling better after her treatment for brain cancer, she began her Payson holiday tradition.

“You need a bright spot in your day somewhere,” said Margaret, 59. “Cancer treatment is tough. I never imagined what it was to go through that until I went through it myself. And to know someone is thinking of you, that’s always a nice thought, cancer survivor or not.”

For weeks before holidays, Margaret’s dining room table or nearby card table are covered with the makings of gifts-to-be.

For Easter, she delivered plastic, candy-filled eggs — some adorned
with felt bunny ears, some with tiny duck feathers. At Christmas, she transformed water bottles into Santa Claus fi ures with hand-cut beards, wiggly eyes and a red Santa hat. And don’t forget St. Patrick’s
Day, Valentine’s Day and Halloween.

As she prepared red, white and blue cupcake liners for a Memorial Day delivery, Margaret explained that her choice of candy had special meaning to cancer patients. The Lifesavers, other hard candy and lip balm help relieve dry mouth often caused by chemotherapy and radiation treatment.

At 50 gifts per holiday since 2018, Margaret is a gift factory, incorporating her mother’s designs and adding her own to make and deliver more than a thousand gifts.

“I just try to make everybody feel better,” she said.