RUTHERFORD, N.J. — The table with the owl pillows was the one that caught Rebecca Weiss’ eye at the 2014 Rutherford Labor Day Street Fair.
It had been four months since she’d been diagnosed with stage 3 breast cancer in her right breast, so she bought one pillow for herself and another for a friend going through chemotherapy.
A month later and a few days into double-mastectomy recovery, Weiss loaded her friend’s owl into the care package she was making for her and almost instinctively slipped her own under her arm.
“‘This is a post-mastectomy underarm pillow,” thought Weiss, formerly of Lyndhurst. “‘And I have to find the woman who made it.”
Four months later, along with her hair, breasts and femininity, cancer took Weiss’ father, who had been battling an aggressive brain tumor since November.
But Weiss still had her own life and with that, no choice but to make the most of it.
“When you go through a serious illness, you just surrender,” Weiss said. “You say ‘I’m going to leave this up to a higher power or my doctors, and I’m just going to get through this.’
“You come out the other side and you think you’re going to go back to your life — and that’s gone.”
Acutely aware of her mortality, Weiss launched Bob’s Boxes in memory of her father.
She loads each one with the owl pillow, sequined slippers, a soft beanie, a West Elm blanket, and tape residue remover for bandages.
This fall, she’s expecting pajama donations for the boxes. A friend with an apparel company will be producing a T-shirt, with proceeds going to Bob’s Boxes.
Weiss raises funds through private donations and AmazonSmile and last year, Cancer Genetics, Inc. out of Rutherford chose Bob’s Boxes as to be its Breast Cancer Awareness Month philanthropy, offering matching funds to employees who made a contribution.
Life without Bob's Boxes wouldn't make sense for Weiss, now cancer-free.
“It feels so good when you do something good, and I think my father knew that," she said with tears in her eyes.
"He was a terribly generous and kind person and I think too few people today understand the importance of helping people.
"This has brought me more joy and more beautiful surprises than any career every could have."