A Christmas box of kindness

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The first Heart of Headland Boxes of Kindness are being given out to all new chemo and immunotherapy patients at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro (RCHT).

Packed with items to help everyone to begin treatment, but not available on prescription. Each box is personalised by its packer. It can also be signed by the person donating it.

Specialist oncology nurse Amy Byfield came up with the idea of giving a box to each new patient – saving them extra cost and effort at a difficult, stressful time. Her colleagues and the RCHT Charity team readily agreed to help and, after eighteen months of sourcing products, funding was secured to create the first 100 Heart of Headland boxes.

Box containing items that are useful for cancer patients (box of kindness)

Contents include a digital thermometer to monitor body temperature, ginger tea for nausea, a pill sorter, soft bamboo toothbrush, chocolate to keep up the calorie intake, organic socks, water in a box to keep hydrated, a tin of mints, aromatherapy to help sleep, something to ease dry lips and a mindfulness puzzle book to while away the time during chemo.

“We launched the boxes on 1 December, the run-up to Christmas,” said fundraising manager Karen Murrish. “Now we need to raise enough money to keep the boxes going after the first 100 have been given out.

“Each one costs £45 and anyone donating that amount and above is welcome to have their name added to the gift they are giving. All contributions are very welcome and businesses might want to donate boxes on behalf of their staff.”

Ward clerk Sarah Mallett has used her skills as a former professional textile designer to create the Heart of Headland branding, stickers and bunting.

“Cancer affects us all in one way or another and seeing the anxiety etched on people’s faces when they first arrive for treatment makes us all want to do as much as we can for them,” she said.

Clinical Lead Consultant Haematologist at RCHT, Bryson Pottinger, has a personal perspective on the impact he feels the boxes of kindness will have for patients. 

He said: “The Box of Kindness looks exactly like the box we put together for my mum as a Christmas present a couple of years ago when she started cancer treatment. What the team has thoughtfully put together remarkedly mirrors the items we included, and that mum said she needed.

“This is a great initiative and just another little thing we are doing to try and make the journey through cancer a little better for our patients.”

Dr Grant Stewart is RCHT’s Speciality Lead for Oncology.

He said: “These boxes are a great new way to support people we look after with cancer. Among all the fancy drugs and treatments, it is often small moments of kindness that make the biggest difference.

“I’m really proud of Amy and the team for giving our patients a hug from the Heart of Headland.”

To donate, please go to: https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/heartofheadland To ask for your name to be included in a box, email karen.murrish@nhs.net or call 01872 252858.

Two nurses standing with a publicity stand at the hospital

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