Over recent months, the COVID19 pandemic has led to difficulty, heartache and worry for millions of people across the UK. But imagine being diagnosed with cancer at the same time, or undergoing cancer treatment knowing you are much more susceptible should you catch this potentially fatal disease.
Thankfully, the staff and patients at the Queen’s Centre, Castle Hill Hospital, have a team of supporters looking out for them before, during and after the pandemic.
The DanKitching35 Foundation has been providing local cancer patients with activities, days out, equipment and more for almost three years now.
The charity was set up in 2017 in memory of dad-of-three, Danny Kitching, who died from an aggressive form of bowel cancer aged just 35.
In recent months, the charity and its supporters have served as a lifeline for patients spending time on oncology wards during the COVID19 pandemic. Having previously supplied TVs and personal computers for patient use, these items really came into their own as visiting restrictions tightened and keeping in touch with loved ones became increasingly important.
But a good cuppa can also be worth its weight in gold, so the charity has continued to supply wards 30, 31, 32 and 33, plus the outpatients and radiotherapy departments, with tea, coffee and biscuits throughout the pandemic too.
And not wishing to forget the hospital’s hardworking staff, the foundation has also provided refreshments, treats and essentials for those putting themselves at risk to deliver life-saving care and treatment in the trust’s specialist oncology centre.
Bryan Birch, Danny’s father-in-law and Trustee of the DanKitching35 Foundation says:
“Chemotherapy treatment in particular can be gruelling, leaving people feeling really low, tired and unwell. While Danny was receiving his treatment, we saw just how important it was for him to have things to look forward to between cycles of treatment, and to keep himself occupied when he had to spend time on a ward.
“Since Danny tragically passed away, thanks to the support and generosity of our sponsors and fundraisers, we’ve been able to provide items and experiences great and small to improve the lives of cancer patients and those caring for them.
“We’ve paid for short breaks for cancer patients and their families, events, days out, and personal computers which patients can use on the wards to stay in touch with loved ones.
“We’ve provided hundreds of dressing gowns and personal care packs for patients admitted in an emergency or without provisions, and then we’ve also supplied the more routine or daily comforts such as refreshments, tea and biscuits for staff and patients across the wards, outpatients and radiotherapy departments.
“Supporting cancer patients, their families and staff is our way of acknowledging the outstanding care shown to Danny and of keeping our memories of this wonderful and deeply caring man alive.”
Angie Barstow, Junior Sister on Ward 32 at the Queen’s Centre says:
“The DanKitching35 Foundation has been a great support to the Queen’s Centre in recent years, and we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact their donations have had and the benefits they’ve brought to our patients and their families.
“The past few months have been particularly difficult for us all; coronavirus has placed a significant additional strain on our hospitals and for cancer patients in particular, who are more vulnerable to the disease, it’s been a time of great concern.
“But the DanKitching35 Foundation has been a shining light for us throughout, and thanks to carefully managed and safe deliveries, coronavirus hasn’t stopped the group from ensuring our hospital patients can still access the comforts and refreshments they’ve come to appreciate.
“On behalf of all the oncology centre staff and patients, we’d like to thank the DanKitching35 Foundation for their ongoing support.”
Top photo: Ward 32 staff (L-R) Caroline Kennedy, Kayleigh Bartle, Angie Barstow, Lucy Rudd and Cathy Sharp with some of the personal care packs given out.