I have been given many thoughtful and lovely gifts since my diagnosis of breast cancer.
I feel it is only right to say something about them, as each and every single one has been gratefully received. Not only that, but the thought and effort put into them have often moved me to tears.
It’s as if those close to you just know that there will be difficult times ahead and they desperately want to help you get through the darker times.
I have received many lovely boxes with ‘survival’ things inside. One of my friends sent me a parcel containing such presents; but even more heartfelt I found to be were that of the words written on the note accompanying it;
‘If I could go through some of this for you I gladly would’ – and I know that she sincerely meant it.
Upon returning from hospital my sister gave me one of the most amazing gifts I have ever seen. It was a large basket carrying the title;
‘Live everyday as if it’s your birthday’
Inside there were 30 smaller gifts, to be opened each day for a month. Each parcel had a saying or positive anecdote meant to act as a reminder that there was something to smile at everyday – something to get out of bed for..
Some days the gifts were small things like snacks (nuts & cranberries), sometimes a reminder to eat breakfast (granola) or little treats (chocolates or bubblebath), sometimes things to make you smile (wonder woman knickers!) and sometimes things to help with recovery (Bio oil for scars). There was a little sign to hang on the bathroom door and even a bell that said ‘ring for a cuddle’ which the children loved. The final gift – was a small bottle of Prosecco, yet to be opened. Again it was not the gift itself that meant a lot but the thought and care put into each & every one.
My extremely talented friend offered to do a family photo shoot for us. Upon visiting one weekend she brought along her professional camera and we spent ten minutes having the funniest time trying to get both kids to smile (we ended up tickling them). The results were amazing, and once framed they will take pride of place in our hallway. It was such a lovely weekend as I got to see her little baby boy for the first time and so I got my auntie cuddles in whilst her husband made us all a roast dinner!
On one of my ‘sofa mornings’, a day after a the first chemo session – I received a parcel of locally sourced cheese and crackers. I could only manage cheese and crackers in hospital, and she had remembered this for the days that she knew I wouldn’t be able to eat much. My mum absolutely loved this one and ‘helped’ me eat some for lunch.
I have been sent lots of bubble bath which has been invaluable to me. Heat and warm baths not only save me on the days where muscle aches and tiredness take over, but also in darker times when emotions and tears seem to take over too. A tiny bit of ‘me time’ in amongst a busy family home have truly worked wonders.
Other gifts included £1 mug (this is now my favourite), ginger biscuits to help with the nausea, an art therapy book, books to read, candles and even a fluffy teddy woodlouse which made me laugh at its sheer randomness.
My sister’s friend also sent me a book* that she found to be useful after her diagnosis of breast cancer. I often used this as a point of reference for anything that I did not understand or that I have struggled to deal with since.
Of course there are other things too, including beautiful flowers and cards of well wishes. Not forgetting my friend who physically walked round London with me step by step for charity [WalktheWalk].
Others have given their valuable time to do something small or to help out where they can.
My husband produced a locket to mark the end of my chemotherapy which was a complete surprise. On the back he had the words ‘children are the best medicine’ enscribed – and I will be adding tiny photos of the children to it very soon.
The most treasured things of all though, have been the words.
The people I spoke to right at the beginning (in somewhat of a blur) who offered words of comfort – or even those since, who have just asked the question;
‘how are you?’
There are certain people in my life who have not forgotten to check-in, people who I know have taken valuable time to talk – even when they’ve been busy.
There are even medical professionals who have gone far beyond the necessary and listened, and I include them too when I say from the bottom of my heart THANK YOU – as such kindness will never be forgotten by me.
Its funny because I always thought that I was pretty tough before all of this, and maybe I was…
*The Cancer Journey – positive steps to help yourself heal, by Katherine Jenkins