Tough Warrior Princesses Deliver ‘Joy’ Baskets

Tuesday January 31, 2023

From left, Cheryl Woodsom and Peggy Mellon with a basket.

Tough Warrior Princesses Deliver ‘Joy’ Baskets
By Stewart Lytle, Reporter
REGIONAL – Since the first of the year, the Tough Warrior Princesses has created and delivered one basket of “joy” per day for cancer victims.
That’s about 30 baskets in the last month, each valued at $500, filled with gift cards for gas and groceries, blankets, lotions that are good for you, candles, candy, head and neck scarves, fuzzy socks, lip balm, custom jewelry and a Tough Warrior Princess ball cap, plus other items good for cancer patients.
The all-volunteer, non-profit group of women hope that the pace of requests for baskets slackens for the rest of the year. But considering that last year in December the princesses hit the 200th basket mark, it could be looking at a 300-basket year.
Founded by Sherri Ziomek and Patty Mellon, two North Shore cancer survivors, with their friend Cheryl Woodsom, the Tough Warrior Princesses raises $100,000 a year to purchase the items, host a Warrior Chats monthly support group and donate money to cancer research.
“The friendship of these women has developed into something more magical than they could have imagined,” their brochure states. It is now “an Army of inspired women and men who realized that any woman affected by cancer needs encouragement, support and the ability to enjoy life.”
The women started raising money for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, a national organization that funds cancer research. They did six-mile and 60-mile walks. When the team, walking under the name Tough Warrior Princesses, grew to 35 women and raised more than $250,000 for Komen, they decided to create their own organization to help cancer victims closer to home, although they have sent baskets as far away as California.
The Tough Warrior Princesses started out helping women with breast cancer. But when a woman suffering from ovarian cancer asked for a basket, they rewrote the mission statement to include all woman with cancer.
As an independent non-profit organization, the women applied for grants, hosted fundraisers, participated in golf tournaments and restaurant nights, including Flatbread Pizza in Amesbury, where they raised the most money in the pizzeria’s history. The most successful fundraiser was produced by the Drive Custom Fit gym in Salem, NH, which raised $30,000.
They have received donations from local banks and businesses. But they depend most on contributions from individuals, many of whom have been touched by cancer.
“We’ve never had a day we thought we weren’t going to make it,” Mellon said last week.
Working under the motto of ‘We are here if you need us,’ the women assemble baskets as they are requested. The baskets are filled to the brim with items stored on tables that take up much of the fourth floor of the Amesbury Industrial Supply Co.
The baskets are then picked up usually by the friend or family member who requested the basket. A frequent pickup point is the 18 Friend Street gift shop in Amesbury.
“We live in a tough world. We see a lot of grief,” Mellon said.
“But we also see a lot of joy,” Woodsom said.
The Tough Warrior Princesses “understand that a cancer diagnosis is life altering,” the women wrote. “It can be a long uphill battle filled with numerous challenges, all while fighting for survival.” The princesses assemble the baskets “to assist these women in their time of need.”
The board of 10 women includes Benda Haskell, a three-time cancer survivor, who designed and created a Quilt of Hope that hangs in various locations. It shows “the strength, love and hope that cancer cannot take away from us.”
If you would like to host the Quilt of Hope, send an email to
The Warrior Chats support group meets at 7:30 p.m. on each second Thursday at Ovedia Artisan Chocolates, 36 Main St. in Amesbury.
To donate, send your contribution to Tough Warrior Princesses at 80 Monroe St. Amesbury 01913.

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