Tesco staff clubbing together for chemo cold cap
Tesco staff and customers are clubbing together to help buy new equipment for Berwick's chemotherapy unit.
It is hoped to purchase a cool cap, which helps some women to keep their hair during chemotherapy treatment.
The fundraising appeal was sparked by the case of checkout assistant Pam Woodcock who is about to embark on a three-month course of precautionary chemotherapy to treat lung cancer.
Pam, 51, from Lowick, said: “Berwick Infirmary hasn’t got a cool cap so, at the moment, it means I will have to go down to Alnwick instead.”
She is particularly keen to try the cool cap after suffering severe depression in a previous battle with breast cancer in 2009.
“I had all my treatment at Berwick then which was fine but I suffered bad depression when I lost my hair. The chemo is bad enough but I don’t want to risk losing my hair again. I think it’s an important thing, especially for a woman,” she said.
Despite the devastating news of the cancer’s return, Pam is staying remarkably upbeat.
“Of course, it was upsetting,” she said. “This time I have been diagnosed with lung cancer relating to the breast and found out that I need to have chemotherapy again. The staff at Wansbeck said I could get the cool cap at Alnwick but Berwick don’t have one.
“I mentioned this to my managers at Tesco when I went in to tell them that I was going to be off for a while and they’ve surprised me by organising a fundraising appeal to try and buy one.”
A tombola in the store last Wednesday raised £320 and Pam’s husband, Kevin, who runs the Lowick and District Darts League, is planning to fundraise too.
Chris Patterson, community champion at the Tweedmouth store, said: “As soon as we heard that Pam would have to travel to Alnwick, we decided we would do what we could to help get a cool cap in Berwick.
“We think it’s important for Berwick’s chemo unit to have one. We want it to have as much equipment as possible.”
Cold caps are tightly fitting, strap-on hats filled with gel that are chilled to between -15 and -40 degrees Fahrenheit and may help some women keep some or quite a bit of their hair during chemotherapy.
Because the caps are so cold, they narrow the blood vessels beneath the skin of the scalp, reducing the amount of chemotherapy medicine that reaches the hair follicles.
With less chemotherapy medicine in the follicles, the hair may be less likely to fall out.
Brenda Longstaff, head of charity development and volunteering at Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, said: “Every year thousands of pounds are raised through our Bright charity by kind-hearted individuals to help provide the extras that improve the experiences of patients receiving care in our hospitals.
“For patients receiving treatment for cancer, these generous donations enable us to provide equipment, offer complementary therapies and improve the hospital environment, which make a huge difference to patients and their families at an extremely distressing time.
“We are pleased to hear of the efforts of Pam’s colleagues at Tesco and are liaising with them as they raise funds.
“We would like to thank them for choosing our oncology day unit at Berwick Infirmary and supporting an extremely valuable asset for the local community.”