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Not Another Bunch Of Flowers featured in The Times.

Survivor finds success with gifts that cancer patients really need.

Two years of treatment for breast cancer was bad enough but having to throw away dozens of gifts sent by wellwishers somehow made it worse.

Anikka Burton found six bouquets of dead flowers when she got home after the last of five operations. Many of the toiletries she had been given contained ingredients not recommended for people who were undergoing chemotherapy. She could not enjoy the chocolates because she was advised not to eat dairy and anything alcoholic might as well have been poison.

After her treatment, and still suffering the side-effects of the drugs she had been prescribed, Mrs Burton needed something to keep her occupied and so the idea of Not Another Bunch of Flowers was born.

A year after its launch Mrs Burton is sending special gift packs all over the world to people who are recovering from serious illnesses, especially cancer. She discovered a niche in the market, having learnt from her own experience which gifts would be appreciated and which were a waste of money.

It is not just a boon to recipients who no longer have to pretend to be grateful for gifts they are unable to enjoy, but to senders who have had the worry of making the wrong choices taken away from them.

Mrs Burton, 37, from Lindfield, West Sussex, was a rep for a travel company before she was found to have an aggressive form of breast cancer in 2011. Her friends and family rallied round desperate to raise her spirits with thoughtful gifts. She got so many bunches of flowers that she was putting them in saucepans and anything else that would hold water.

But it was the flowers she never saw in full bloom that upset her the most.

She says: “Many people don’t realise that most hospitals won’t allow flowers on the wards these days. I was being sent bouquets I never got to see. I really appreciated the thought but I felt it was such a waste of money.”

During her treatment Mrs Burton had the full works including chemotherapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and five surgical procedures.

She said: “I really appreciated the more practical gifts as I didn’t want to be dashing around buying things like eye masks and pyjamas appropriate for surgery. I also loved anything natural and pampering as it was the only way I could spoil myself during treatment.”

The gifts being sold on her website notanotherbunchofflowers.cominclude everything from sleep masks for use in busy wards to “chemo gift sets” that include a beanie hat for those who have lost their hair.

Since launching the website she has had orders from America as well as Australia and New Zealand. She said: “My customers tell me there’s very little like this in the States and what there is tends to be on the clinical side.”

But the greatest gift she had herself was the love of her husband. She said: “He is a very talkative person and I realised how lucky I am, talking to some of my customers whose partners left them when they fell ill.”

Written by Simon de Bruxelles.

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