“Hi, sorry to interrupt you!” That’s how I normally start.
Walking into a Cancer patient’s hospital room can be difficult, especially if they look really poorly and if they have family visiting. I just remember why I’m there, what my purpose is. I go on to tell them about The Lewis Foundation and the free packs we’re offering and show them the list. There are LOADS of options to chose from! Lorraine and Lee, the charity’s founders put a lot of thought into what people would want, what would bring them the most happiness. As such there is everything from a portable radio to puzzles, books, make up, sweets etc. There are also specialist cancer products like mastectomy support pillows made and donated by Jen’s Friends and chemo hats and wash cloths made and donated by Midlands Craters 4 Breast Cancer. New to the packs are letters from well wishers that come via From me to You Letters and copies of The happy Newspaper. That’s the thing, this charity is a team effort of which I’m lucky enough to be a small part.
Mum spent time in hospital because of her illness and I know she would have loved the concept of the charity and the packs. Hospitals are lonely and isolating places, especially if you are battling a terminal illness. You are often confined to a bed and the hours can feel like days. I know that only as a visitor. I can’t really imagine how bad it is as a patient with all that time to think about your illness and how poorly you feel. Lorraine and Lee felt the same way when they spent time visiting Lee’s Mum at Northampton General Hospital. That’s what inspired them to start the charity and spread some happiness to adult cancer patients in Northampton. They both work full time and they pour so much time and energy into the charity, it really is amazing.
This week, a lady pops her head of out of one of the rooms as Team Lewis Foundation go by. “I want you to know what you do makes a real difference. It really does.” The lady must be visiting a family member. She looks really happy and grateful. I would have felt that way if someone had delivered a little package of joy to my mum. I go into another room, a lady in her 40s sits in a chair by the window with her swollen leg raised in front of her. She chooses a chemo hat because she’s just about to start an aggressive 2 week course of daily chemotherapy. I chat to her and tell her I hope it’s not too bad. I can tell she appreciates the sentiment. It’s that kind of interaction I like the best. The opportunity to wish a stranger well and to really mean it. Everyone I talk to could be my mum, my dad, my sibling or my friend and for that moment, they are and I want them to have a moment of relief. They aren’t a Cancer patient, they aren’t a diagnosis, they are a human.
I discovered the Lewis Foundation via their instagram page completely by accident and contacted them pretty much straight away to get involved. I volunteer an hour a week. It’s not much really but with volunteering, every hour makes a massive difference to the organisation you help. For me, volunteering for The Lewis Foundation has given me a sense of pride, happiness and community. It has also helped me to work through the grief of losing my mum to Breast Cancer because I’m now doing something positive that I wouldn’t be doing had I not lost her. It also restores my faith in people. When I see what Lorraine and Lee have created and all the other people who contribute to raising money and creating the packs, it reminds me that the world is a good place and that we can all do our bit.
I’d urge you to take a look around and find out what’s happening in your community and get involved. I know you’re busy, but every small act has a huge impact. After all, what are we here for if not to help others?