Cancer is an illness that affects all of us. There's a 1 in 2 chance of getting Cancer, so chances are we will all be affected by it at some point in our lives. That's why it's so important to get behind charities such as Stand Up To Cancer, who help fund ground-breaking clinical research into treatments and cures for Cancer as soon as possible.
In honour of Stand Up To Cancer launching this years 'Join The Rebellion' campaign, Don't Buy Her Flowers, your go-to for care packages of all occasions, has launched a brand new customisable Stand Up To Cancer care package perfect for patients and their loved ones. We spoke to Steph, founder of Don't Buy Her Flowers, about why she wanted to get involved, why the care packages are so great for anyone affected by Cancer, and what inspired her during the process.
How did working with Stand Up To Cancer come about?
I met them at a Selfish Mother event about a year ago. While chatting, we said "oh we should work together!" We were starting to get more and more inquiries from customers saying someone they loved had cancer and that they wanted to send them a package, but some needed to tailor them to make them right depending on treatments - some side effects included sensitive skin, hair loss or not wanting certain foods. Then we started talking to Stand Up To Cancer again at the start of the summer and a group of us did a tour of labs at Imperial College to see where their money goes, which was mind-blowing. There are all these dedicated people leading ground-breaking research and improving treatments and personally it made me feel heartened because it's come on so much in recent years. It also made me think about how we could contribute - they always need more support, and it's a cause which is very important to me. My husband is alive because of the treatment he had. Developing a package that will offer patients and their loved ones TLC while raising money made absolute sense for us to do.
Who's involved in the project?
Myself, Clemmie Telford and Hollie De Cruz all met with Stand Up To Cancer initially and came up with some ideas for how each of us could do something via our blogs and businesses. We were then joined by Deborah, Emma, Nicola and Natalie for the lab tour and then a shoot where we got to dress up as famous rebels for the Stand Up To Cancer launch. I was Ripley from Alien and they fashioned my actual hair into a mullet perm. It was particularly brilliant because, as the kids were away at their grandparents, Doug and I were going out for dinner that night - with my mullet!
What has surprised you the most about Cancer when you've been learning about the clinical trials and what they do?
The developments that have been made over the last thirty years are major. We met with a research team and the things they're trialing and looking into are mind-blowing. For example, chemo drugs that are released at the optimum time for your body so they work the hardest, and so many very clever people doing very clever things. But also the sense of urgency; I was sat next to Deborah and as they were talking about a treatment she casually whispered "this is the one I need them to crack on with before it's too late" and it really hit home to me.
Tell us about the Stand Up To Cancer Care Package you're launching...
The package is for anyone going through cancer or for their loved ones, to offer some TLC, with over 40 different products to choose from to make the gift just right for the recipient. It's our first completely bespoke package. Doug said something right at the beginning of the idea that stick - he said that the most important thing to recognise is that Cancer is intensely personal. What might offer TLC to someone depends on diagnosis, treatment, circumstances - where one person might crave ice pops, another might be sensitive to the cold. Some people might want a distraction, or a gin, or delicious biscuits, or some might be completely off food with sickness. Most importantly, I didn't want it to feel really 'Cancer-y'. These are people going through a shit time and they deserve some looking after - that might be something to relieve symptoms, like the queasy drops, but equally it could be cashmere socks and a delivery of COOK meals. 5% of the retail price of every package sold will be donated to Stand Up To Cancer.
How did you go about choosing the products that are in the package?
I wanted insights from other people that had been through it, so Deborah, Emma, Elizabeth and Helen all gave me ideas about what helped or would've helped them. We came up with 40 products that can be put together in any combination, ranging from snacks and COOK meals, to gentle skincare, puzzle books and a gorgeous necklace. They suggested things that hadn't crossed my mind, like the gorgeous soft blanket; two of the girls had chemo with a cold cap, which is excruciatingly painful. The blanket is for comfort and warm but also isn't too big so it can be portable, so we worked with Majorie Minnie to come up with the perfect size. Like all our packages, the products are then gift-wrapped and include a handwritten message.
What has touched you the most while doing this project?
Definitely the other women involved! They've been dealt shitty hands by Cancer, but each of them is so warm and they've been so helpful and kind about this project. And funny. People are funny and brave and magnificent when faced with tough times, and none of them wants to be called brave - they'd all argue they're not brave, that they've no other option, but to anyone looking in from the outside they are warriors. The other thing is just how many people are affected by Cancer. It's so far-reaching. I don't think there is anyone not affected by it in some way by the time you get to my age.
Finally, tell us a bit about Don't Buy Her Flowers...
The business idea came when I had my first baby and was sent eight bunches of flowers and it struck me as bonkers that people receive a gift that requires looking after when they’re doing more caring than they’ve ever done in their life. Similarly, if a person or family are living through cancer diagnosis and treatment, they need looking after because they will be pouring their energy in to each other and their treatment. Flowers are lovely but in certain circumstances, I believe there are better gifts. In fact, Helen (from Disko Kids) said ‘When it comes to cancer, flowers just don’t cut it’.
You can purchase a Stand Up To Cancer Care Package from Don't Buy Her Flowers here.