The Sending Smiles 2U care packs have been thoughtfully researched and put together by my beautiful friend Janine based on my personal experience of going through years of chemo treatment and also the feedback from others going through similar battles with chemo and cancers. I was diagnosed with leukemia in 2016 and had a bone marrow transplant in 2017. My journey has seen me spend many months in hospital with all the side effects of chemo treatment, radiotherapy and the mountain of drugs! During my journey I found that friends and family really wanted to support in some way but weren’t sure what they could do to help.
Leukemia wards don’t allow flowers due to patient’s low immune systems as a result of chemo, and hospital rooms have limited space for personal belongings. Chemo itself brings with it nausea, vomiting, mouth ulcers, dry lips, lack of appetite, constant metallic taste, extreme fatigue, hair loss, skin issues, and other things we’d prefer not to mention! Janine’s care packs include ginger candy and tea to help with nausea, lip balm, boiled lollies to rid the metallic taste, hand moisturiser, and much needed water bottles. As a patient we are constantly overloaded with information from the doctors and nurses so a notebook and pen is very useful. All of these items would certainly be appreciated.
Treatment almost inevitably has its complications like fevers and infections and ending up in isolation. Items like the cooling towels will help provide relief with fevers, and who says we need to be boring when wearing hospital masks in times of isolation?!.. The care packs include fun masks.
Hospital stays can last a month or more at a time bringing with it the heartbreak of missing family and the comforts of home especially due to the limited space in hospital rooms. Whilst gifts from visitors are lovely to receive, they often can’t be kept due to space restrictions. However, comfort items such as the plush blanket and warm socks in the care packs would definitely be loved! The visitor’s notebook is a great way for family and friends to leave loving and inspirational messages to keep us going through the tough times.
You can’t choose your roomies when you’re in a hospital ward and hospitals are fairly noisy day and night, so ear plugs come in handy to get some sleep. Similarly, lights are often on and off during the night and when you want to try for some sleep during the day, eye masks are a good solution. The care packs have some fun eye masks instead of the just the boring ones.
Even with Hickman and Picc lines for chemo treatment, we are still constantly being jabbed for blood tests and transfusions to the point where our veins give up and it can be difficult to find good veins to use. Warmth brings veins to the surface so the cute little wheat bags in the care packs can be used for this purpose or just to snuggle into for warmth!
Yes – chemo brain is a real thing! Chemo treatment affects concentration levels to the point where sometimes it’s even difficult to watch a movie or read a book. The care packs have very cool bluetooth beanies that not only keep bald heads warm but allow you to listen to music and take calls! Activity items such as the puzzle or colouring books also come in handy for the boredom and short attention spans!
Going through cancer treatments is a battle both physically and emotionally. Whilst everyone deals with their journey differently, humour and smiles can definitely help get through the tough times. During treatment we’re attached to IV poles for weeks on end as though they’re an extra body part! So much so that the poles are often given an affectionate nickname or decorated with a flag or similar. The care packs include some gorgeous monkeys that can hang from the IV poles and many of the items in the care packs are designed to bring love and smiles to those who really need it.
Lastly but certainly not least – nurses do an incredible job of caring for chemo patients. They literally become a second family so to want to give them something as a small token of thanks and bring a smile to their day, is solved with the ‘thank you’ gift packs.