A TEENAGER from Trearddur Bay, Anglesey has been spending the last 14 months providing care packages for patients undergoing chemotherapy in numerous North Wales hospitals.
Olivia Hart, 19, has so far delivered 330 ‘Chemocare’ bags, which are filled with items she has fundraised to help the patients, such as stress balls, adult colouring books and hand warmers.
The majority of bags have been donated to patients at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor, where her father, James, underwent chemotherapy for six months after being diagnosed with bowel cancer in March 2019.
Olivia’s mother, Emma, who has helped her with the project, expressed her pride in her daughter’s achievements and resilience, and hopes that any extra publicity will help to grow the scheme further.
Emma said: “My husband had bowel cancer and chemotherapy – he’s doing OK at the moment, hopefully – and she really wanted to do something to help other people and came up with this.
“I work at the hospital (Ysbyty Gwynedd), so I spoke to the nurses on the Alaw ward (the hospital’s cancer unit) and checked if it would be OK if we did something like this for the patients, and they were really on board with it.
“We’ve had quite a few feedback cards or notes of thanks from patients saying it made their first day of chemotherapy just a little bit less scary; something to distract them from the chemo. It’s got things like an adult colouring book in it, as well as things that will help with side effects.
“The majority are at Ysbyty Gwynedd, but we have dropped some to Glan Clwyd (in Rhyl) as well. We’d love to grow it, so we need more support.
“We fundraise for it every month. They need about 30 bags in Bangor here to give out to all the patients and about 15 bags in Glan Clwyd. We need a bit more of a push now to try and get someone else or other companies involved.”
Olivia, who was recently crowned Royal International Miss United Kingdom Teen, will be heading to Florida next July to compete for the international title, and hopes to share her Chemocare bags in the United States so that more people going through chemotherapy feel supported.
Olivia, who also promotes bowel cancer awareness, fills the bags with hand cream, fluffy socks, lip balms and more, once the bags have been hand-made for free by Emma’s friend, Pam Gannon.
Emma added: “We just want to keep going every month. We’d love to grow it and spread it over the UK, eventually.
“She’ll have contacts in America now, so she’s hoping to try to spread the word further and get people involved all over that can help support patients that they know going through chemotherapy.
“When it was first was all happening, she was doing her A-levels – now she’s in university, works part time and is doing this.”
If you would like to assist with the Chemocare project, either through donating funds or items to be included in the bags, you can contact Emma at: firstname.lastname@example.org.