Not Another Bunch Of Flowers was set up by me, Anikka Burton.
I was diagnosed with an aggressive, locally advanced primary breast cancer in 2011 at the age of 33 and had the full works of chemotherapy, targeted therapy, radiotherapy, hormonal therapy and 5 operations to date. During treatment I wrote a blog to help others through treatment: www.chemoforbeginners.com.
When I was first diagnosed my wonderful and caring friends, family and colleagues sent me so many bunches of flowers that I ran out of vases, jugs, pint glasses...until I was putting them in saucepans and anything else that would hold water! It was really touching knowing that so many people were rooting for me and wanted to show their support - it gave me a much-needed boost on the days I was struggling - but I guess (in the nicest way possible!) there's only so many flowers that a girl needs! But it is difficult to know what else to send.
I was also sent some tempting foodie gifts including a hamper of cheese, chocolate and wine and a box of cupcakes - none of which I could enjoy as I was advised to avoid dairy during treatment and alcohol was a no-no. Even a sip burned my stomach lining that had already been eroded by the chemo. Your taste buds also get seriously altered by the concoction of toxic drugs.
Toiletries are also a bit of a minefield with many patients giving up products containing chemicals such as parabens and sulphates. Even some natural, aromatherapy and homeopathic products can interact with the treatment or mimic the very stimulants that the treatment is trying to reduce.
Many people want to show their support for a friend, family member or colleague with an illness by sending something to show they care. But rather than saying it with flowers like so many others or risking sending them something that they're not able to use, why not sent a practical and thoughtful package full of useful and pampering bits and bobs?
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.
I have handpicked some thoughtful and useful gifts that I would have loved to have received during my treatment. The gifts are pampering yet practical and toiletries are based on natural ingredients with no parabens or sulphates (as these are thought to cause cancer and aid the cancer to spread) and the edible goodies are dairy free (as it is recommended to avoid dairy with certain illnesses).
You will also be doing your bit for charity as I will be donating a proportion of all profits to selected charities and hope to raise much more for charity in the future. You can follow the charitable progress in my blog or follow me on Facebook. I desperately want to do "my bit" to help stamp out cancer in the future. It is a devastating disease - both emotionally and physically.
With each gift suggestion, I have explained which patients each gift is particularly suitable for and why I have personally selected it.
I welcome any feedback and will do my best to answer any questions.
I am doing good. OK, so the worry and fear never totally disappears, and I still have some side-effects from treatment, but as of this moment I am feeling well and I am moving forward with my life.
In January 2017, I became a mother, something I thought may never happen. I had previously been given the dreadful news that I wouldn't be able to have children due to my cancer treatment. So when I became a mum it was literally life-changing in every way. So, coupled with Not Another Bunch Of Flowers growing and developing into a business that has exceeded my initial expectations, I feel truly blessed.
So I am proud to say I am mum, a working mother and a small business owner, who is currently in the land of "NED" (No Evidence of Disease). Long may that continue!