Nurse taps into rainbow of rocks and support for her patients

Street Stories

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ There are times we all need something solid to hold onto.

When registered nurse Tracy Gelsomino saw one of her patients with what she called a “no worry stone,” she came up with an idea.

She sent messages to five rock painting clubs, asking for some tips about the craft. Within hours, there was an electronic avalanche.

“I told them I wanted rocks for my patients,” Gelsomino said. “Within 24 hours, my inbox had 75 messages.”

Offers to help were followed by loads of rocks.

“Some mailed,” Gelsomino said. “Some dropped on my doorstep. It’s absolutely incredible.”

They came from as far away as California to the west and Great Britain to the east. Many with messages on them and several with side notes of support for Gelsomino’s patients.

“Never in my wildest dreams did I ever expect this,” Gelsomino said. “I thought I’d be sitting at the kitchen table learning how to paint one rock, and in four weeks I have 400 rocks sent to me.”

Gelsomino works at Women & Infants Hospital as a nurse navigator, which is someone who guides breast cancer patients through their radiology and oncology appointments.

Now, she also offers them a choice of stones.

“We hold hands during our biopsy procedures, and they can hold this,” she said referring to one of the rocks. “It’s a nice reminder of what they’ve gone through and the courage they need.”

Gelsomino has been personally impacted by cancer, losing her father to the disease in 2017. Her mother was diagnosed with cancer earlier this year and is now in remission.

She said the rocks that came from everywhere are a wonderful reminder about how people are willing to help strangers.

“I think during the pandemic, you start to forget there’s some really good, amazing people in this world,” Gelsomino said. “It’s more than I can ever ask for. It really is. It’s beautiful and they need it and they love it.”

Email Walt at wbuteau@wpri.com with your story ideas and follow us on Twitter: @StreetStories12 and @wbuteau.

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Providence

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