Guest blog: setting up pink parcels
In December 2019 I was enjoying my red hot shower, a welcome break from England’s typical December freeze when I thought I’ve not done a breast exam in a while! Whilst searching hoping it would all be fine there it was an embedded pea shape lump! My heart stopped I instantly froze and mentally planned my funeral and then it dawned on me how would I break this is to my hubby and child?!
After a glass of wine (extra extra large) I calmed down and knew I had to face this calmer or it wouldn’t be cancer that might kill me it would be a heart attack!
It was Christmas time and trying to get into the GP was borderline impossible however I persisted and after a few days I had to beg the receptionist to have someone see me, turns out if you just tell them what it’s for they can magic you a same day appointment – who knew!
I had lots of people see my boobs and feel them and prod and poke me and after a hunky GP (cringe) a consultant who told me I was mad, an ultrasound, mammogram and multiple biopsies I was given the devastating diagnosis of Triple Negative Breast Cancer at the age of 27.
I am still undergoing treatment whilst writing this, its actually my final chemo of 16 tomorrow but my treatment plan is 16 chemotherapies 5 different drugs, surgery – currently opted for lumpectomy but my surgeon may change this if she feels it’s not suitable – and Radiotherapy.
I was taken on a quick tour of the chemo unit and thanks to Coronavirus I was told I would have to go it alone as no visitors were allowed for the foreseeable- gulp! If chemotherapy isn’t scary enough having to do it alone was terrifying! After having a little cry, ok I lied a huge sulk and sob I decided I can’t go 7 months upsetting myself like this so I had no choice but to somehow turn this experience into a positive not only for me but for every other petrified patient on that chemo unit, after all we only had each other now!
After some deliberating and scouring Instagram for inspiration I decided I was going to create Pink Parcels. One thing I know I can do best is pamper myself so I know exactly how to make others feel pampered too. I started off with 50 parcels and to this day I currently have distributed 150 free pink parcels to chemotherapy patients and I’ve had some wonderful things come from this and made a life long friend – you know who you are!
Included in pink parcels are usually tissues (when chemo takes your nose hair, you’ll understand!), Vaseline/lip balm, a wordsearch book and pink pen, box of sweets or mints, face masks (beauty kind not corona kind) gin gins, wax melts, beauty samples, playing cards (men’s boxes) affirmation cards and various other treats I come across.
I’ve done various fundraising all whilst I’ve been having treatment myself I’ve raised over £2,500 via walks, social media, gofundme page and honestly I’ve had a blast there’s nothing more I love to do than put a smile on someone else’s face at the end of the day I don’t know these people, they might not have families to go home to or look at through a window (again, thanks corona!) so something as little as this parcel can really make a difference to someone’s day and for me it was a welcome distraction.
When lockdown started and the country was thanking the NHS I couldn’t be more grateful to them, I owe them my life! I see so may other girls from all walks of life paying thousands of dollars etc for their treatment and I’ve even had people from other countries asking me to share their justgiving pages as they can’t afford the treatment, I realised how lucky we are to get this all for free! So in typical pink style (I’m know known as the pink lady at my hospital) I put together some pink bags for all the chemo staff on the ward which consisted of: face masks, nail varnish, coffee, hot chocolates, handmade jars, sweets, perfume, wax melts, badges, hand cream, lip balm, beverages (gin and Malibu) and they was so grateful it was really the least I could do as they was saving my life and I never once heard them complain, although I couldn’t guarantee they was always smiling under copious amounts of PPE in the summer!
I think all I can say to you is when your first diagnosed its so easy to get caught up in the google searches and scare yourself to death but honestly put down the laptop and anything your unsure of ask a breast care nurse or your oncologist/consultant don’t ever listen to Dr Google as I’m pretty sure he’s never been to university!
If you look around you there will always be a smiling kind face in the room somewhere who will spark up a conversation and keep you company on your chemo journey, I’ve met so many amazing people on my journey and made friends I’ll keep forever. If you told me this on day 1 I would have told you where to go but as I stand here now I can say you will get through it, your stronger than you think and there’s no many genuine people out there willing to help you through and will stand by your side the whole way, you are never alone.