You may not know what to say – but now you know what to buy.
There’s no other word for it – being diagnosed with cancer is shitty.
It’s a tough time for the survivor and their family, a period filled with sadness, anger, confusion and questions. And it’s a time that Shelli Whitehurst is all too familiar with.
Whitehurst is the co-founder of Kit for Cancer, a service designed to make the time of diagnoses that little bit easier, by providing a kit filled with everything you might need.
We spoke to her about how it works, who it helps and her own ongoing battle with cancer.
Where did the idea for Kit for Cancer come from?
“The night I had been told that I had stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. I had been at the breast cancer surgeon’s office from 10:30am – and then had been in tests for seven hours back-to-back,” she says.
“The world is a blur. You are a pin cushion and you just don’t feel anything anymore. Through this process you are told by a parade of doctors, nurses and everyone else about all the things that you need and all the things that will help you.”
“There are a barrage of people wanting to send you gifts and asking you what they can do to help. At this moment – you really don’t know and that question becomes like fingernails on a chalk board,” she says.
“It’s really frustrating because you are focused on your next test, appointments and what’s going on with your cancer – not worrying about what bunch of flowers you would like delivered. I was thinking, why is there just not one place that I can go, click and they would arrive at my house?”
“From the minute you are diagnosed every minute of your day is filled with back to back appointments with doctors, radiologists, specialists and more – when do you have the time to go and get ready to purchase all these other things that you need? This is where Kit for Cancer came from,” she explains. (Post continues after gallery)
Click through the gallery to see the cards that sick people really appreciate.
What’s the aim of Kit for Cancer?
According to Whitehurst, the most commonly asked question after cancer diagnosis is, “What can I get you?” and “What do you need?”.
Kit for Cancer aims to give family and friends a practical gift to be able to buy their loved one, which is full of everything the will need.
“Flowers and hampers and all those things are just not that appropriate in this situation and most of the time leave you feeling quite empty and upset – there is nothing to celebrate or have joy around the fact you have been told you have cancer,” she says.
“Also cancer straight out of the gate is expensive with scans and drugs, so this is a good start of things that you can help a patient with that they don’t have to spend money on. ”
“It’s an ice breaker – when people have to tell people they have cancer it is amazing how most people can’t handle it – and I am not talking about the patients. It’s often the friends and family,” she says.
What does the kit contain?
“The kit contains a whole range of things from hydralyte, mouthwash and rose hip oil to lifesavers, a journal and headphones,” says Whitehurst.