Breast cancer lesson number 58: If in doubt, just ask. Kindness is never hard to find

Cancer has done one thing for me for which I will be forever grateful. It has restored my faith in human nature and forced me to not just see and appreciate, but actively look for the beauty in others.

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In lesson number nine, I talked about the fact that kind people rarely make the headlines, but that if you looks beyond the stories of sadness and destruction, you’ll find a real beauty that will move even the strongest person to tears. I am delighted to report that nearly three months after my initial diagnosis, these people remain my front page and my headline news.

I was reminded of this only yesterday, when I returned home from hospital to find a parcel waiting for me on the doormat. It had come all the way from the US and it contained a creative solution to a PICC-shaped problem.

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Anyone who has seen the picture accompanying lesson number 48 will know that a PICC line is basically a piece of plastic tubing poking out of my left arm. Yes, it’s practical, yes it’s clamped into position with another piece of clinical-looking plastic and no it doesn’t actually bother me (except in bed when I try to sleep on it).

The trouble is, I think it bothers everyone else. It certainly is no oil painting and Duncan won’t even let me show him the tubi-grip style bandage protecting it. In fact, I had a few messages from friends telling me they couldn’t even read that day’s post because the photo looked a bit menacing. While I am fond of my pink cardigans, I’m not sure I want to wear them all summer.

So, what can turn my patient-looking arm into something a little more palatable? The answer, even if you spend hours diligently googling, is not very much. If you want a radioactive-style armband for the shower (see lesson 51) or a waterproof swimming cap cover, you’re in luck. If you want something made out of fabric that looks more like an iPod holder sleeve, you won’t get far.

Enter Courtney, otherwise known as Riley Jane Designs. This wonderful ER nurse from the US makes beautiful PICC line chemo cuffs. Having experimented on patients to get the design just right, she has been shipping them across America in an attempt to bring a splash of colour to the arms of those undergoing treatment.

That is, until now. Unable to find a UK equivalent, I contacted her on the off chance she might either be able to make some for me or send me the pattern so I could have a go myself. Within hours she had replied. Within days she had bought the material and just one day after supplying my arm measurements, they were packaged up and travelling across the Atlantic to my doormat. She didn’t know me at all. She didn’t question why I needed one. She just picked some fabric and, in so doing, made my day. Goodbye tubi-grip and hello handmade chemo cuff (they are reversible too, so with two cuffs, I get four different styles to choose from).

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Courtney is a beautiful person and all I hope is that, every day, someone reminds her of that fact. Thank you for being a kind and thoughtful stranger. You make the world a beautiful place just by living in it.

So, this is my little way of reminding you to seek out and thank the people who bring happiness and a smile into your lives.

Kind people matter and they shouldn’t be allowed to forget it.

3 comments

    1. Courtney is VERY loved and both myself (I am the PROUD husband of Courtney) and her 2 children with dads coaxing sometimes but most of the times without try and make her know how beautiful inside & out she really is. Thank you so much for writing this article. You will never know how good this has made her (Courtney, i.e. Riley Jane Designs) feel. God bless you and your family.

      1. So lovely to hear from you Cliff and I am so happy to hear that Courtney has a wonderful support network around her. Her covers are admired everywhere I go and she is such a talented woman. You are a very lucky man. Happy Easter to you and your family.

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