Patients receiving chemotherapy spend weeks or months in hospital wards. While they are receiving treatment coupled with all its side effects, it can be a scary, lonely, overwhelming time for them.
Now, the Smiling with Jerome Foundation has come up with a way to bring some comfort and cheer to cancer patients with their ‘Chemo bags of hope’ initiative launched in December 2019.
The NGO was founded on the 6th of October 2017, the day that Jerome Frendo died after battling bone cancer for almost four years. He was only 20 years old.
It was officially registered as a foundation in early 2018. Its main mission is to help families diagnosed with cancer and families whose children have been diagnosed with severe disabilities/conditions.
“The cancellation of key fundraising events during Covid-19 has meant that we have had to write off a vital source of annual income. However, we are continuing with our initiative,” Josette Frendo, Jerome’s mother, told Newsbook.com.mt.
At the moment, Josette said, the bags are being given to all inpatients at SAMOC (Sir Anthony Mamo Oncology Centre) who are in Rainbow Ward, Palliative, Wards 1 and 2 and Haematology, patients referred to the foundation by Hospice Malta, and soon to patients receiving chemotherapy at Gozo General Hospital.
“The bag has specialised items for cancer patients to to help them get through the long hours of treatment. As patients, all items in this bag are intended to help them with their well being, mental health and relaxation,” Josette continued, “Each bag is lovingly filled with Hope and helps to provide a positive mental health and well being plus much-needed relaxation.”
What’s inside the bag?
Lap Blanket: If patients are feeling cold, this helps to provide extra warmth;
Colouring Book for the Children: They have to be occupied while having treatment;
Art Therapy Book and Puzzle Book for the Adults: All patients need to keep themselves occupied during the long hours of treatment;
Stationery: pencil, rubber, sharpener and a pen are essential;
Colouring Pencils: Colouring can be a way of relaxation;
Notebook: Thoughts and ideas are better written down than remembered;
Hand Sanitizer and Tissues: Better to keep the germs away;
Alcohol Free Mouthwash: A clean mouth is very important;
Lip Balm: Dry lips are a common side effect of chemo;
Lollipop: Chemo can leave a metallic taste in your mouth;
Folder: Very handy to keep important documents neatly organised;
Bottle of Water: Staying hydrated is very important;
Stress Ball: To help ease one’s tension and it’s also great to do some simple exercises with your fingers and hands;
Clip Board: Very handy if one doesn’t have a table nearby;
Stuffed Toys: Toys and children go together.
“Each bag costs us €50 but we intend to continue giving them to all young and elder patients for free. But we need help – our target for this initiative is to reach every patient who is diagnosed with cancer but funds are very limited. Our foundation isn’t helped by any government funds and neither can we hold a marathon on TV,” said Josette, “We intend to continue helping others through this very difficult time… we know what it means as we went through it ourselves when our son was diagnosed with Ewings Sarcoma.”
Donations can be made either through – an Internet Bank Transfer IBAN MT 30 VALL 2201 3000 0000 4002 5276 992, by sending a cheque payable to SMILING WITH JEROME to 43, ‘Kyrios’, Triq ir-Rand, Attard ATD1300. through the website or via Revolut on 99872002.
“With your help we will reach many more special families and they will feel much appreciated,” concluded Josette.