A multi-award winning charity has generously donated bags of practical and comforting items for those dealing with a life-changing breast cancer diagnosis at Walsall Manor Hospital.
The Hug-in-a-Bag initiative was introduced by Ladies Fighting Breast Cancer (LFBC) as a way of providing “common sense” items – such as a water bottle, moisturiser and a book – for patients attending their first treatment session. The bags also contain thoughtful items including a blanket and nail varnish, as body temperature and nail discolouration are just two of the changes that can occur due to cancer treatment.
LFBC was established in 2000 by Veronica Kumeta and the late Sue Macmaster, after their friend Carol Knaggs was diagnosed with breast cancer. Sue was also later diagnosed with the same cancer, and both sadly lost their battles to the disease.
Through these experiences, Veronica is passionate about raising awareness and building a supportive network for those navigating a diagnosis, including friends and family members. She and her team believes that nobody should have to face breast cancer alone.
Veronica said: “Hugs-in-a-Bag started during COVID, when we realised that ladies and men were coming into hospital without a family member or a friend.
“There are items in the bag that other breast cancer patients told us they would have liked to have had with them during treatment, but they didn’t know – and why would you?
“We hope that the bags put smiles on the faces of those who receive them.”
Trish Griffiths, Breast Cancer Support Nurse, at Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust, said: “The bags will take some fear out of our patients’ first treatment sessions, as I think they will create a sense of focus and ease people in to their appointments.
“This is the first time we have been able to give out something like this. It’s a very daunting time for many, so we are really grateful.”
LFBC runs a closed Facebook group – BreastMates Central – where hundreds of women meet regularly to share experiences, ask questions, and support each other. The group is open for anyone affected by breast cancer to join: facebook.com/groups/breastmatescentral
The charity also hosts online coffee mornings and one-to-one sessions, as well as having a choir which meets weekly to help reduce stress and improve people’s moods. Find out more by visiting its website: lfbc.org.uk.