The ChemoHero Story
In 2012 Lisa was diagnosed with a stage 2 breast cancer, being only 29 years old it came as a great shock to her and her family.
Entering treatment not more than 2 weeks after diagnosis Lisa found her self in a hospital room incredibly unprepared for what was to come. She and her husband Rob had taken no money and no food and so the seven-hour day in the hospital felt even longer.
Dosed up on steroids, high dose antihistamines and intoxicated with chemotherapy Lisa and Rob headed home, within 5 hours from treatment Rob found himself picking Lisa off the bathroom floor as the chemotherapy took hold of her body making her incredibly poorly.
Her next treatment followed two weeks later where she found herself sitting opposite a lady who was 80 years old. As she listened to the wonderful nurses' talk and care for the lady she learnt this lady was going to be heading home on her own… Lisa at this point became panicked about who was going to care for lady, who would help her with her medication regime and how would she know what was going to help her?
Lisa started to develop the idea of a box of kindness that she would fill with items that she was soon learning to be helpful for her as she gained more knowledge on the side effects of chemotherapy.
Lisa completed her 8 chemotherapies and went on to have surgery to remove her cancer followed by radiotherapy but the lady she had met in her second treatment wouldn’t leave her thoughts.
Lisa at the time was a learning support assistant in the local college for students with additional needs and so has always had kind caring nature towards other, she spoke to her students about her experiences of cancer feeling the need to educate them on the positive outcomes of chemotherapy over what many would have related to the word cancer.
She spoke of the idea of a box of kindness and so her students and colleagues got behind her idea and raised the first £500 to start making these boxes Lisa had become increasingly passionate about.
She heard of another local lady receiving treatment not far from her and so delivered a box of kindness to her, this lady went on to tell the hospital all about this magical box she had received and so before Lisa knew it she was being invited up to the local hospital to talk about distributing them through the hospital…. Lisa's dream was quickly becoming a reality.
Unfortunately, Lisa's cancer returned and she was facing a further 12 chemotherapies, Lisa put her head down and got on with it while continuing to develop Chemohero with her husband Rob's support.
Even their son Stanley came up with a name for their newly founded charity as he said one day… Mummy your the chemo and I’m the hero as I helped find your cancer!.
ChemoHero was on its way regularly delivering boxes up to the Local Chemotherapy unit.
As the boxes were going out the products were coming in and so they were quickly growing out of running the charity from their front living room, luckily a wonderful local businessman Steve Boden had heard of Lisa's charity and so arranged to meet with her to see how he could help. The following week ChemoHero was moved into the premises of Boden Fire and Security.
This move opened up so much potential but it was on the condition that the charity became registered so ChemoHero became just that!
Fast forward 3 years and ChemoHero has gifted over 1000 boxes to local chemotherapy patients in North Devon. The boxes are gifted by the nurses on the patient's first treatment, this enables the nurses to give the patients something positive in their treatment journey.
Lots of local businesses now either donate products or offer their services, as well Lisa makes sure that all fundraisers get the opportunity to pack a box for a patient as she’s a strong believer that ChemoHero must carry a community feel because without the community ChemoHero would not be what it is today.
Lisa is now living with her cancer but she has used ChemoHero to direct all she learns about her disease to better the boxes of kindness and the experience other patients have on their first treatment.
Going home with a box overflowing with products that will help them with the side effects associated with chemotherapy.