This month we've decided to share with you the fantastic work that cancer support charity Treatment Bag does. Co-founders, Lisa & Maymie have created the most beautifully curated gift bags for people going through cancer. Everything that goes into these bags has been carefully considered to ensure that they enhance the lives of those they're given to. We caught up with Lisa & Maymie, who helped set up the charity to find out more.
How and when did the idea come about to start the Treatment Bag scheme?
The concept of The Treatment Bag was borne out of a visit by one of the trustees to hospital for their chemotherapy session. On this particular day, a Somerset cider farmer was also having his treatment. He arrived - still in wellies/covered in straw - with carrier bags full of apples, as gifts for all the other patients having their treatment, despite never having met any of them beforehand. It was a simple, thoughtful gesture, which raised everyone’s spirits and the whole atmosphere of the room. On her way back home, the trustee thought it was such a wonderful moment, that this could be replicated for other cancer patients.
What benefits do the products in the bags have for people going through cancer treatment?
Each product in the bag has been chosen to counteract one of the side-effects of cancer treatment. We researched the issues with cancer treatments and collated a list of common problems, plus items which were a luxurious treat:
Sore mouths - pure and gentle mouthwash is a great help for this nasty side-effect
Dehydrated skin - lightly scented, organic moisturisers for body, face and hands
Cracked lips - soothing, natural lip balms
Taste buds changed/nothing taste good - Good quality, organic chocolate was universally the one treat which still tasted good
Too tired to cook - the Cook vouchers/discount cards allow access to quality ready meals
Tired all the time/lots of visitors - a lovely mug with organic, herbal tea
Can’t sleep (despite the above) - sleep spray
The chills/bad circulation - a cashmere beanie and scarf
What's the best feedback you've received so far?
We’ve had countless, fantastic feedback. There are lots on our Instagram account, but here are a couple of recent examples:
‘I just wanted to say what a totally amazing thing this is, so cleverly put together and a brilliant way to say how much you care about someone without having to get in the way.’
‘I loved my bag. Thank you so much. I now want to help peters get the warm and fuzzy feeling I got following my first chemotherapy session. Much love,
How many people have been supported through your incredible work?
We are a new charity, so the number of bags going out is increasing all the time. Last year we sent out approximately x400 bags - more than one each day. This is increasing by the minute!
What are your goals for The Treatment Bag in 2020?
We would like to reach more patients - there are 360,000 patients being treated for cancer each year in the UK and we only come into contact with a very small number of them. Currently the bags are unisex, but ideally, we would like to have specific bags for men and women. Another area would be to create bags for children - this is obviously even more complicated, but it would be wonderful to
Top 3 tips for anyone going through treatment?
Put yourself first - you need and deserve to put your feet up and look after yourself
Find a community - online or face-to-face, much support can be found with groups of others going through similar experiences
Don’t be afraid to ask - people are keen to help and will bend over backwards to make your life easier
How can people help out or donate to the Treatment Bag?
We are run entirely by volunteers - we have an amazing group of regular helpers, (accountants, pr, communicators) and groups of volunteers who come for wrapping days, where we put together x100 bags at a time. Donations are easily made via our website. Here you can also purchase a bag to be sent directly to a loved one.
Bramley Products is delighted to be contributing to the bags with our Body Wash, made with 100% natural botanicals.
Another brand included in the bag is Inlight Beauty. Physician and Inlight formulator Dr Spiezia says:
‘Cancer treatment can be aggressive both physically and psychologically as we all know.
Your body is fighting hard enough already to cope with the ‘outsider’ which your system doesn’t recognise. You don’t need more chemicals; your priority during this time is you and anything that can replenish, care, soothe skin and give a much-needed boost to body and mind. Choosing chemical-free and gentle, natural-organic products in and out, will ease the journey to recovery, making you look and feel better and help preserve energy.’