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The innovative gift that cancer patients truly appreciate.

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.”

Shelli with her doctor. Image via Instagram.

“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.

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The contents of the Kit for Cancer. Image via Instagram.

“Each has a meaning and is essential to the processes of going through treatments. They are all as important as each other, but my favourite item is the glass Keep Cup that you can take everywhere – especially to hospital so you don’t have to drink out of a styrofoam cup.”

“It is hard enough sitting in a chair for seven hours having chemo, let alone not having nice things to drink out of,” she says.

What’s the biggest misconception about people undergoing cancer treatment?

“That is curable and it will go away – I have stage four cancer and the majority of people do not understand when they say things like ‘You’ve got this’, ‘You can fight this’ and ‘Go girl, you can beat it’. It’s never going to happen,” she says.

“I smile and agree and not a lot just to avoid making people feel uncomfortable.”

What’s the best part about Kit for Cancer?

“Without a doubt it makes the cancer patient that you are gifting it to so happy – and it means you have really thought about what they need and what it means to be going through this,” she says.

“Flowers and a hamper are superficial tokens; Kit is thoughtful, it has meaning, it shows that you understand that the person needs more than a token gift, and that you are trying to understand what they are going through.”

Team Kit for Cancer. Image via Instagram.

What advice would you give to someone who is newly diagnosed?

“Every cancer is different and each individual person’s cancer is different. Don’t look at the numbers, stop looking at mortality rates, there are no answers and there is always just one more thing that has to happen. All you can do is put one foot in front of the other and try to get through to the next thing,” she says.

“From this moment on your life will never be the same again. You have to try and not obsess about being the “one you were” – you will never be that person again.”

“You now have had a cancer diagnosis and therefore have changed forever. Spending time trying to analyse ‘why me?’ is also a waste of time – cancer doesn’t choose; you probably didn’t do anything wrong, it just sucks,” she says.

Click through the gallery to see some celebrities who’ve been diagnosed with cancer. 

“Every day you need to channel your emotions and need to be focused on trying to get through the next steps: medications, procedures and healing.”

And Whitehurst warns Dr Google is the worst thing you can do.

“You will use it, you will find out the most horrible stuff – you will give yourself a full on meltdown, you will cry for days and then after that, you will decide not to worry about Dr Googling ever again. We all do it, and we all end up at the same place!”

You can get involved with Kit for Cancer in a number of ways. Kits cost $150 and you can buy one for someone you love, pay it forward and buy one for someone in need or contribute to a Kit Mission, where kits are delivered to hospitals for patients who need them. You can also join in on a corporate program.

Kit also donates 30 per cent of its profits to support charities including Tour de Cure. Visit Kit for Cancer for more information.

This story originally appeared on Mamamia’s health and beauty site, The Glow. 

Do you think Kit for Cancer is a good idea?

Read more: 

What your friends with cancer want you to know (but are too afraid to tell you).

What it’s like always being that “Cancer Girl”.

“Since the cancer diagnosis, the old me has been forgotten.”

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