A new online platform designed to tackle the gap in support for the families of those suffering from cancer has launched.
‘CancerPal’ offers guidance and insight into the practicalities of caring for loved ones, as well as providing hard-to-source products and support boxes that help alleviate symptoms of the illness and its treatments. Eventually, its founder Jo Riley hopes to develop the platform into a community, where friends and families can share experiences, advice and support.
Based in Welsh ICE in Caerphilly, the platform launched in November following support from TownSq and the TownSq Accelerator Programme.
The community platform and online marketplace was founded by Jo Riley following her own family’s struggle with the illness.
In 2015 Jo’s mother Lynne was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer. Jo found it difficult to find support for specific aspects of care, with the majority of advice online being aimed at those suffering from the illness.
Founder, Jo, said: “It was a really difficult time when mum was first diagnosed with cancer. I found that whilst there was support available for those suffering from the disease, there wasn’t much available for friends and family.
“I found it really difficult to find answers to specific questions. For example, through the treatment, mum was losing her hair and I wanted to find out what shampoo would be best for her to use. It took hours of searching through forums and websites before I could find the answer I needed. I remember thinking that it shouldn’t be this difficult.
“As a family, we found it very tough dealing with the diagnosis, so I decided to put a support box together for my mum, with little keepsakes and comforting items. It made a huge difference to her and I know she really appreciated the thought, as well as the items.”
Sadly, in January 2018, Jo’s mother passed away. After returning to her corporate career, Jo felt she needed to do something that would make a difference: “I found it difficult returning to work. I was sat in a meeting, and I just remember thinking – why am I here? I decided that if I found it tough seeking help and advice, then there were probably plenty of other people who were also facing the challenge of supporting friends and family through the illness.
“I remembered the difference the support box made to my mum, and so I decided to create CancerPal, so that people would have a place to learn about the support out there, as well as purchase items that would directly help those undergoing treatment for cancer. For example, our chemotherapy box contains ginger sweets for sickness, heat packs for aching muscles and cuticle balm to treat dried and brittle nails – all side effects of the treatment.
“We’ve been blown away by the response CancerPal has had, which has emphasised the need for this kind of support. We’ve even had requests for boxes to be sent to the United States!”
CancerPal has been supported through the TownSq Accelerator programme on behalf of Business Wales, which gives potential fast-growing businesses expert mentorship, guidance and support.
Founder of Town Square Spaces, Mandy Weston, said they were delighted by how well the business was being received: “We’re pleased that CancerPal has started so strongly; the business has begun trading and has some great feedback – which is entirely down to the hard work and vision of its founder Jo.
“The Accelerator programme is designed to help businesses that are looking to grow quickly but also to help them export across the world. With CancerPal, Jo has already begun to do that, and hopefully, as the platform grows, she can reach more people and help develop the business into a community and a vital resource.”