Category Archives: A WELLBEING DAY

How we ran an event – and almost had to close the doors to newcomers


Kensington and Chelsea LINk ran a fun event designed for cancer patients and by cancer patients.

This was probably the first time such a large event had been organised.  But why did they do this?

Several reasons:

  • Cancer Patients often complain of feeling neglected and abandoned
  • When their ‘treatment assembly line’ finishes, they can find it difficult to tie up all the loose ends, deal with side effects, find where to ask advice about benefits, etc.
  •  Often it can be difficult to difficult to  find information, especially on dealing with side effects, as these may not follow a ‘normal’ pattern
  • There are many services available, but patients don’t know how to get information about them
  • They are told to “ask your GP”, but doctors may not be able to keep up with all the latest information

So Kensington and Chelsea LINk cancer group had the idea of bringing helpful services and products together under one roof, as a Wellbeing Day.  Organised by Ijeoma Igwume, and assisted by  Simmone Hall who MCed the event, it turned out to be so popular that at one time organisers wondered if  ‘Elf ‘n Safety” would make them close the doors because so many were queuing to get in!

This is my unofficial account of how we planned the day, and what happened.  I work on the cancer group, and was delighted to see how an idea mentioned in a committee meeting became a wonderful reality.  This is my slant on the day – NOT an official account.

With many thanks for photos by Barrie Leyshon of Cancer Voices, and others.

End Result

The Event was an incredible success;  many of the visitors asked and emailed to say ‘run it again’.  People were going round with big smiles on their faces.

Speakers such as Mark Davies (who wrote ‘ Saving My A*’) had standing room only for their talks;  the companies who generously provided goodies and took stands were asking “when is the next event?”, and two of them, Urban Retreat at Harrods and The Organic Pharmacy, have already said they are going to carry on offering more services for cancer patients.

Stop PressPaul’s Cancer Support Centre in Battersea has just announced they are planning on running not one but two similar events, copying the format.

So K & C LINk’s trail blazer proved that there is a need to have information available for cancer patients, of the kind that medical staff are often too busy to provide.

The Event must have been interesting.  Having come to open it, the Mayor, Councillor Julie Mills, enjoyed herself so much she came back again in the evening!  This is her on the stage; also in the photo is Paula Murphy (left), in charge of the hard-working LINk team.


Anecdotal evidence showed that about 50% of the visitors were from the BME community – which LINk are keen to contact.

168 visitors filled out a questionnaire  – a very high proportion of those attending

4 major events are planned for cancer patients as a result of being shown what could be achieved

And as an added bonus LINk said that they picked up new members.

So if you want to run your own event go for it – and here’s some background information to help you run a Wellbeing Day


This web page leads you to articles about all the different companies who contributed;  who won top prizes; and background information about the companies that participated:

Please feel free to copy and write to those contributing.  Many of them are only too pleased to help.  They make products that will help cancer survivors, but often the NHS doesn’t have time to try them out, evaluate them and promote.


Patients, members of support groups, nurses, therapists, physios, members of cancer charities, GP surgery staff and doctors


We worked with Macmillan to target the BME community, and in return they gave us generous sponsorship.


Gives a summary of articles about the various companies that generously gave us fantastic amounts of goodies to pop into bags.

Vikki Ullah invited me to lunch afterwards and I had great fun trying on their wigs (cost £100 upwards and they accept NHS vouchers).  During lunch there was  very positive outcome in a long discussion about various initiatives that they already offer, or are hoping to offer to cancer survivors.

A really positive result!



All these were generously covered by a Macmillan grant, which also provided enough funds to enable us to offer refreshments too – most welcome and lots of people commented on this.

If you can’t get sponsorship to pay for food and drink – think local supermarkets.  Firms such as Waitrose and Tesco often have a policy of helping local charities and will donate tea bags, coffee, milk and often eats as well.  Approach the local Store Manager (not the Head Office).

Just don’t forget you will need volunteers to serve, clear up and wash up!


Aim high.  If a venue, hotel or sports centre is opening, ask if you can ‘use’ their space in return for publicity for the new venue.

Football clubs, racecourses, swimming and health centres etc. often have suitable space.

It helps if you are going to invite a personality that will give the venue  media coverage

In the States many cancer hospitals will ‘lend’ their reception space for the day.  Try your local NHS hospital. However, asking for another event, I sent long detailed emails when hospitals asked for them – only to find I didn’t even receive the courtesy of a ‘thanks but no thanks’  reply.


We found that Macmillan had funds to sponsor events particularly targeted at the BME community;  this was a natural for any major city such as London – so thanks to a generous grant we were able to provide door prizes, refreshments etc. for free, and didn’t have to charge stand holders.


Since Macmillan had provided sponsorship, we didn’t have to charge companies to take part.  So instead firms such as Flexitol and Synergy were incredibly generous, and provided boxes of samples for our Goody Bags instead.  We also had representatives from Age UK, Citizens Advice Bureau and local Advice charity Nucleus, Royal Marsden Hospital, Paul’s Cancer Support Centre, Cancer Charities, Krish Shastri whose stand provided information about travel insurance (another very popular stand), Macmillan, Europa Donna, Organic Pharmacy,  etc.

Particular care was given to providing information to help the BME community;  this is a major concern in this part of London.  Talking to a BME leader, she said that although the Macmillan questionnaire said that 12% were from this sector,  anecdotal evidence suggested we got nearer 50% attendance, but many might not have had time to fill in forms.


I used to run events for the Lifeboats with John Sainsbury (now Lord).  One could see he was going to go far because he got on with the work.  Two of his favourite maxims were

“the best committee is a committee of two – with one person ill”. 

And “if you have a committee, get them decide on the important issues, like the colour of the tickets;   leaving your committee of two to work out the rest of the details without discussion“.

But, we were agreed that you need a committee – a big one – if you have to sell tickets.  Luckily for us, Macmillan gave a grant which enabled us to run the event and not charge visitors.

So Ijeoma Igwana and myself communicating by email, was incredibly effective.   Aided by some special help from Gaenor Holland-Williams, who was brilliant at getting the very popular stands offering benefits advice, such as Age UK, Nucleus, etc.


This can vary: your local cancer centre might be very supportive but not have anyone to spare to help you;  another group will go out of its way to be supportive.  So, realising that these Centres were over-stretched, we asked them to distribute invitation flyers, and had one centre present which has several BME groups in its membership.


We had a separate room with a platform, ideal for various speakers.  We asked representatives of cancer charities and the Prostate Cancer session was full.  Mark Davies spoke, and promoted his book.  Local hospital provided a dietician/nutritionist whose talk was tremendously popular.  Another speaker talked about how to handle the new benefits claims, etc.  Organic Pharmacy had a very popular session;  you will probably find major pharmacy chains such as Boots or Lloyds would be happy to provide speakers.

And the session with a local dance group entertaining was tremendously popular;  just make sure the singing and dancing are contained, as otherwise those in main hall trying to talk to stall holders can’t hear themselves think!

Only time there were spare seats was in-between speakers


This corner was very popular.  Local Spas will often provide mini-massages, make-overs, manicures etc. in return for the publicity they gain.  Make sure it is as quiet as possible, and away from main crowd.


It is vitally important that guests get something, even if just a cup of tea.  You may be obliged to make use of the Venue’s catering company, in which case see if you can get a supplier to sponsor refreshments.

If you are allowed to supply catering, don’t forget you will need people to do serving, washing-up, clearing etc. People will volunteer, but you need plenty!

If you want supplies, local branches of Supermarkets such as Tescos and Waitrose have a policy of helping local charities.

If you need to contact a company, go on the Internet, find out who is their PR company – and approach them. The PR company has to provide exposure, so will love the chance of saying XXX number of people will be present and persuading the company on your behalf that it would be a good idea to donate what you need.  This can often get a better result than you approaching the company direct, unless you are friendly with one of their major executives – or you happen to work for them.

If providing food, remember some will be vegetarians, or have had cancer;  we were offered curries, but had to turn these down as patients often can’t take highly spiced food.  Bland is best!  And ensure food and contents are labelled clearly.


Difficult to get the actual bags;  I had been promised these by a PR company, but they lost their Over-the-counter medicines account just before the event, so didn’t have any to give us.  So it was a mad scramble at the end.

But – filling these was no problem.  Companies were incredibly generous.  See  for ideas.

Often it is better to approach the PR agency handling a company’s press, rather than approaching the company direct.  You find out who they are by looking on their website under Press or Media mention.

If you offer any products make sure they aren’t likely to cause controversy.  We handed out cans of a new beverage,  but I made sure this didn’t contain ‘E’ numbers and was ‘pure’.  Same thing with over-the-counter remedies;  Rohto provided samples of eye drops that help with ‘dry eye’, but I checked with an Opthalmogist who often recommends this product.


One set back was caused by Trend-Micro, a company that had been employed by the NHS to filter out Internet spam.  They blocked every single email coming from a major ISP provider – and one happened to be my supplier!  So emails due to be sent out reminding people about the event disappeared into the ether.  However, if we had had more the doors might have had to be closed!We had an unexpected set-back:

The North West London Cancer Initiative group is the overall cancer body for our area of London.  Two weeks before our event, we get to hear they had called a massive conference for the same day, so theoretically all their 400 members would be going to this conference, instead of coming to us.  Several of this group said they were horrified, and were coming to or event as they wanted to know what patients wanted, and what was provided for them.

So much for ‘Patients are at the centre’, etc!


Don’t underestimate the time it will take to organise and confirm arrangements.

But at the end it will be incredibly worth-while.  I couldn’t believe how many lovely congratulations came our way, and at the end I was presented with a plant that is still sitting across the room.

So if you want to organise a similar event, Go For It!  Best of luck!

Enhanced by Zemantas

Celebration for nails too!



When Kensington Town Hall hosted an inspirational Cancer Well-Being Event, this incorporated a mixture of information and hands on therapy sessions. This event was a celebration of life, with those attending delivering a pro life message in a big way.

As part of the relaxing therapy zone sessions, nailtiques’ mini manicures; targeting the adverse effects of intensive medication such as dry, brittle nails had people flooding to the stall, technicians suggested the perfect balance of proteins and conditioners to improve nail quality.

For over 20 years nailtiques has been providing treatments for those with problem nails caused not only by prolonged illness but also ageing and negligent care. For the majority of females visiting the stall it was about regaining their femininity, no more seeing life’s little luxuries as an indulgence but a necessity to their well-being.

Guest’s were very excited to find nailtiques samples in their goodie bags. A range of treatments were advised to them during an individual consultation and guests found samples to suit and take home.

All Formulas were recommend on a personal basis

  • Formula 1 advised to those looking to maintain a healthy nail building upon its already present strength
  • Formula 2 specially developed to improve soft, peeling and weak nails, stimulating rapid growth
  • Formula 3, getting results for hard, dry or ridged nails.

The day was a great success with nailtiques coming prepared with product and expert advice on nail care. Event organiser, Ijeoma Igwume said “I am overwhelmed by the fun that was had at the nailtiques stall. The consultations were a genuine opportunity to indulge these highly courageous individuals. It’s been a roaring success, we were busy all afternoon and it was a huge bonus to have nailtiques involved with fab treatments.”

Liz Kilpatrick, Educator and nailtiques specialist, was hard at work in her tiny corner.  The organisers wanted to offer lots of room, but the event was so popular that Liz and the other therapists were crowded in their corner, to fit everyone in.

But Liz carried on without a break, commenting, “I’m so proud that nailtiques were able to be involved; it’s such a worthwhile cause. There was a real sense of living for the here and now, when life threw them a curve ball they grabbed it with both hands.”

The timetable included humorous speeches as well as a vibrant display of African Dance- so associated with the bustling carnivals and a natural beauty perfectly setting the tone of such as inspiring event.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Organic Pharmacy

Local Pharmacy goes worldwide

 Sharon and Ewa ‘man’ their stand at Wellbeing Event.

In the Goody Bags was a sample Double Rose Rejuvenating Face Cream, made by the Organic Pharmacy.

About ten years ago, a local Pharmacist opened The Organic Pharmacy on King’s Road. As a mother of two, an entrepreneur and a wife she knew how important it is to strike a balance in life, and The Organic Pharmacy was “an extension of my own life and that of my family”.

The Organic Pharmacies spread slowly across London, each one a lovely white, clean and sparkling space;   a shopping haven free from chemicals found in other stores, a place where expert knowledge on well being, herbs and homeopathic remedies were readily available.

Principles were very simple, the best organic ingredients, honest expert advice, quality service, incredibly effective products and a caring environment.

In 2008 they opened their first store in Los Angeles, with same aims as the London outlets:  to bring you the best products, advice and treatments free from all the toxic ingredients commonly found in mainstream cosmetics and health products. ­From our herbal and homeopathic dispensary we custom blend herbs and homeopathic remedies to suit your needs.  Expert advice from our qualified professional team means you are able to fulfill all your health and beauty needs.


Staff from the Organic Pharmacy were kept busy at the Wellbeing Event, answering questions on their stand, and Ewa Macur gave a fascinating talk about the products they offer, and why it is so important to look after our skin.

Whether we suffer from breast cancer, skin allergies and sensitivities or wanted to optimise care for skin and health, the staff were giving an informed talk about the various suitable options.  They  encouraged all their  our customers to ask as many questions as they need to, “and we are there to support you every step of the way”.

“We hope that we have shown the world it is possible to choose an organic product that is beautiful to look at, luxurious to use and more effective than its synthetic counterparts without compromising your health or beauty”.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Cancer wellbeing day a hit with companies and patients.

Visitors queued to get in

For the first time in Britain, Cancer patients and carers had a complete event which was designed by them for them.

Cancer patients often complain that they are ignored – abandoned;  no-one pays attention what they want to know.  But  at the Kensington and Chelsea Cancer Wellbeing LINk event, patients and carers were going around with smiles on their faces.  At last they could find help with the ‘small’, often overLooked  problems they face day-to-day.  Here they could ask questions and be given informed advice on rough skin, nausea, applying for benefits, travel insurance,  etc.

Venue was packed

By 3 pm it was standing-room only to listen to Mark Davies‘ hilarious talk ‘Saving my A*’  (I leave you to supply the missing word!) talking about Bowel Cancer.

It is certain that everyone who was laughing their heads off at his delivery, will remember his talk!

After there was a marvellous demonstration of African Dance, then Elizabeth Crisp gave a factual and very interesting talk – this time about Easophageal cancer.  and Suresh Rambaran talked about Prostate Cancer.  Both talks demonstrated what the event was about – telling it like it is so that we all know what to look for.

The Organic Pharmacy had another packed audience for their talk, with numerous questions from members – who then stayed on for the Cook and Taste demonstration;  and many of us came away with recipe books handed out  giving details of easy ways of eating healthily.

Below, this was the Hall just before Mark Davies started his talk – and I can assure you those two seats were filled – and more – with over 200 people.  Are you in there?

Meanwhile, downstairs those queuing to get in almost couldn’t get in, there were so many people waiting.  But eventually everyone fitted in, and the event was buzzing.

Stall Holders

When the Mayor, Councillor Julie Mills, arrived, she was soon asking questions of Macmillan, who were the major sponsors of the event and had come primed with helpful leaflets – then she moved on to meet Les Girls at the Europa Donna table.  This is a European-wide charity that gets patients together with major surgeons and oncologists.   If anyone is interested in what is happening elsewhere, they have members in 44 countries.  Their meetings are a fascinating mix where we patients can genuinely quizz top medics, and get answers, and anyone interested can not only become a member for a small sum, but patients are treated equally with medical professionals.

Next door was Breast Cancer Care, who, as usual were inundated with enquiries, and next to Age Concern, Citizens Advice Bureau and Nucleus – all agencies who were ably fielding so many enquiries about the new regulations for benefits.

Companies had come laden down with free samples.  Flexitol makes Heel Balm (which cancer patients can get FREE on prescription) and there were plenty of visitors wanting samples, along with their Lip Balm, Nail Revitaliser Gel and other goodies.

Those carers looking after bed-bound people were crowding round the Synergy stand, whose Sharon King said  “As a supplier to the NHS and healthcare at home market, the Kensington and Chelsea Cancer Wellbeing Event was a superb opportunity to meet with many different customers and better understand their needs.  We were able to demonstrate our innovative Oasis Bed Bath System, comprising of wipes and shampoo caps. This  attracted lots of interest from cancer sufferers and their families, as well as healthcare professionals, who could see the advantages of  a quick and comfortable single-step bed bath, without the soap and water”.

Literally by popular demand, Krish Shastri was there from InsureCancer.  At a planning meeting the committee were asked whom to invite, and unanimously said “someone who can tell us about fair medical travel insurance”.  It is difficult to find a company that covers all the possibilities, but Krish even works out how long it takes to transfer a casualty to the nearest hospital – and advises against some popular venues as hospitals may not be up to scratch.

Another support centre answering loads of questions was Paul’s Cancer Support Centre;  probably the oldest in Britain.  There Petra, Beverley and Dani were inundated with questions, particularly about The Healing Journey programme.  Next door was Barrie ably answering questions about Rarer Cancers, and incidentally taking photographs – those you see on these pages were his.

Meanwhile at the back of the hall was a quiet, calm oasis with therapists giving mini-tasters of therapies, including massages.  We had wanted to have a bigger section, which would certainly have been warranted for all the interest there was – but maybe next time!

I did have time for a quick chat with Liz Kirpatrick and Faye in the Nailtiques boutique;  Liz had literally saved my nails when they started crumbling into chalky dust from drug side effects.  She understands what drugs can do to nails, and can manage to trim crumbling ends so that they end up looking glamorous!

Urban Retreat and Vikki Ullah wigs were inundated with enquiries, especially as they are able to help and advise on what is best for us after treatment.  Each of the Goody Bags had a special voucher for £10 off – and some lucky person won a £500 voucher.  More about them later on.

Background Planning

The idea for the event had come out of a LINk Cancer Group meeting.  It involved inviting people and companies that provide help and support for cancer patients, to come and talk and to show off their products and services.  Ijeoma Igwume worked tirelessly getting it all together, aided by Paula Murphy, and Gaenor Holland Williams got the benefits agencies together to offer incredibly useful advice,

Patients, Carers and supporters were able to talk to support centres, benefits agencies, manufacturers and other patients under one roof  – all about the things they wanted to know, but never found whom to talk to.  And those ‘manning’ stalls said how useful it was to talk to other stallholders, as well as visitors.

More about the Raffle and Goody Bags later on – because those were a story in themselves;  everyone went away with lots of pressies, thanks to the generosity of the stall holders and many others.

Enhanced by Zemanta

What was in the Goody Bag at Cancer Wellbeing Event


Every visitor to the Cancer Wellbeing Event

got a Goody Bag !



Visitors crowding into Kensington Town Hall for the Cancer Wellbeing Day found companies had been incredibly generous with samples.  Ijeoma, Simmone and Paula in the LINk organisers’ office nearly ended up in the street, as their office filled up with the goodies that poured in for the Event.

As a patient, I had been horrified by some of the products I was given to supposedly help my peeling skin, painful eyes, splitting feet etc.  I remember the Pharmacist at the Royal Marsden shaking his head as he handed over yet another ‘approved’ but useless product, saying “I am afraid this won’t do you any good”.  And he was right.

So I was determined that at this event visitors were going to take away with them samples of all the many products that companies make for us, but we are never told about.  Some of them were developed abroad especially for cancer survivors – all of them have been used by me and my friends – and had helped us.

As a cancer survivor, I wanted nurses, doctors, carers etc. to know

  • What WE liked
  • What helped us
  • What products were really helpful, etc.

so I asked those companies that had helped me if they could let us have a few samples.  The response was overwhelming !

So here’s what was in the Goody Bag – and I hope that you find something useful that might help you handle side effects from cancer drugs.

However – please ask your CNS or doctor before you start using anything mentioned here – and then enjoy!

The bags contained a selection of the following, and if anyone wants to try something but it wasn’t in their bag – contact me at at and I will ask the company if they can send samples.   Looking for more information?  Just key in the name into the Search window above the right hand column;  I have written more about these products in various articles when I tried them out.

DEEP FREEZE PATCHES  You can buy these patches at any good chemist, they are made by Mentholatum, and are used by just about ever major football and rugby club to treat their players when they have an injury.  They can work for us when we get pains – but if pain persists then use the Deep Heat sister product.

EQ8 is a refreshing and fruity new energy drink with a virtuous difference – it’s made from natural ingredients and is designed to give a natural energy lift. With just a nip of natural caffeine, EQ8 is the ideal way to revive and re-energise naturally and makes a great alternative to tea and coffee. Plus, EQ8 Cranberry & Apple is filled with anti-oxidants and counts as one of your five-a-day.  or follow EQ8 at or twitter@eq8energy.


These are my unsung heroes when it comes to products!  This is an Australian company, and many of us know that cancer patients are really well looked after in Oz, particularly when it comes to products that help with drug side effects.  Their Heel Balm saved my feet when they looked like horses’  hooves,  and I even discovered that I can get this on prescription – why doesn’t anyone ever tell us?  They make a range of different skin care products, such as Lip Balm and Dry Skin cream, and other products are also available on on prescription.  Your doctor can look this up in the BNF book on their desk.



Keep a supply in your freezer for those days when drugs act up and you feel nauseous. Developed for pregnant women, someone had the bright idea that they might help cancer patients too – and now some hospitals are trialling them in their chemo wards.




Living Nature is endorsed by Breast Cancer Network New Zealand as ‘above reproach’ for products, practices and committment to helping women’.

The company’s Philosophy is that they believe that when it comes to beauty solutions, nature has the best answers.  When developing their skin care and cosmetic products, they look at how nature does it and are inspired by the remarkable healing properties of New Zealand’s native plants. 85% of New Zealand’s native plants are not found anywhere else in the world and the bio-activity of some of these ancient species is amazing. Active Manuka Honey is nature’s miracle skin healer, Manuka Oil is a powerful skin protector – just a few of their unique New Zealand ‘Hero ingredients’.







Started just ten years ago, the Organic Pharmacy has spread across London, and now has an outlet in Los Angeles.   One reason why the company is growing so rapidly is because they aim to give you as much information as possible. Whether you suffer from breast cancer, skin allergies and sensitivities or you want to optimise your skin and health, they say “an informed, honest choice is your right, we encourage all our customers to ask as many questions as they need to and we are there to support you every step of the way”.  Their website has a list of carcinogens and toxins to watch out for.  And as they say, “We hope that we have shown the world it is possible to choose an organic product that is beautiful to look at, luxurious to use and more effective than its synthetic counterparts without compromising your health or beauty.   Not only did this company supply us with lots of blister packs of their soothing day creams, but they also gave a fascinating talk about products that could help us.


Peachykeen Organics gave us Vouchers for 25% off any products you order online.

Their range is organic, and if  you have ‘Brillo Pad’ skin I find their Body Butter is brilliant;  although it is very oily, it sinks into your skin fast, leaving you with smooth skin.


Another Mentholatum product, which is incredibly soothing for when we get those nasty red eyes as side effects from some drugs.  Ask advice of your medical team before you start using this – or better still, your pharmacist – as they know all about this product.


Carers looking after bed-bound people found either a Synergy  If Bed Bath pack or a Dry Shampoo pack in their bag.  There has been a lot of comment recently in the press that elderly patients are no longer given bed baths whilst in hospital (Ugggh!), but now there is no excuse – these packs don’t need bowls of water – but are used straight from the packet.  I have used the Dry Shampoo when in a hurry and my hair is really in need of TLC!  If visiting an elderly person in hospital and you suspect they aren’t being looked after – take some packs in with you!


So often anyone who has coloured their hair finds that they can’t get help when undergoing  treatment.  But Tints of Nature Shampoo and Conditioner has studied what we need, and formulated products with natural and certified organic extracts for gentle but effective cleansing. Natural proteins and conditioners care for the hair, leaving it healthy and manageable. The range is free from Sodium Chloride (salt) and harsh sulphates, such as Sodium Lauryl Sulfate.  Sample packs of  Tints of Nature Shampoo and Conditioner were included in the bags, and they have lots of fashionable  colours which can be mixed with a natural colour to cover grey hair.






Some lucky bags contained Wahanda spa gift vouchers.  Even if your bag didn’t have one, this is an incredible service that is very cancer survivor friendly.  We should all have a monthly massage during the years when we are on hormone therapy, and every week Wahanda comes up with incredible ‘money off’ offers where a full 12 hour massage can be around £20.  They also offer reflexcology, facials and other beauty treatments – and even Pilates.

Enhanced by Zemanta