So what do you do and think after someone you love has been told he has cancer? As an older sister I knew maintaining Luke’s sense of humour would be incredibly important to his recovery, especially as Luke has always been the Joker of the family. During the initial diagnosis the Doctors had taken us aside and emphasised the healing power of positivity. In fact one said that; the Hospital was in charge of his body but that we were essential in keeping his morale up. At that moment I thought to my self how can I help ? especially as I was having to return to my normal life in Bristol, and could only visit once a month. Knowing that, in the same vain the majority of Luke’s friends couldn’t just drop work and commitments to fly to Italy, how do you create a link to friends, family and the normality of every day life? His Hospital visits were already under sever restrictions because of the nature of the disease. Masks and protective footwear , a one visitor at a time policy, was highly likely to increase his sense of isolation. Of course he didn’t speak a word of Italian and he felt miles away from the comfort and connections with the familiar. So as we left the hospital that second night, I thought about him inevitably loosing his hair and the chemo stress potentially making him feel even more disconnected and depressed. It struck me we could set up a group on Facebook, so people could read about what he was going through and by documenting his journey we could bring the outside world to him. So the cry went out on Facebook and aHataDay was born.
‘Who can find a hat that suits Luke? Whilst he goes through Chemotherapy for Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia Type T in Italy, we want to bring a sense of humour to the lengthy recovery Luke is about to face. Whilst he is most likely to loose his hair we wanted to give him a new style everyday so we need your help. If anyone has a silly hat or a hat that just screams Luke!!! Please Send it to him. We want you all to be involved and keep Luke as entertained as possible especially as you can’t all physically be with him but this way you can be a part of his recovery.’
This proved to be a real success! On a daily basis Luke received hats and he received almost a 120 in total. They came from as far a way as New Zealand, USA , Japan, Norway and all over Europe, some got stuck at customs but most arrived at the Hospital with much amusement from the Italian Doctors and Nurses, as they brought in daily parcels containing various strange ‘furry’ objects. Some were home made, others hilariously tacky and one even arrived from 007! Everyday, a photo was made and posted on Facebook. When Luke went through his darkest moments, Mum told me, that the only thing that made him lift his head was to see the posts that came through on aHataDay! He would glance at the comments, and as he told me quite recently ‘ It was amazing to see how many people were thinking of me and helping me through those battles’. As silly as the whole thing sounds and perhaps looked, it was a form of therapy for us as a family and a way to process for me personally, what my little brother was having to deal with. The video he made to document his experience shows the brutal truth of daily hospital life and the life saving yet corrosive effects of his Chemotherapy. The up coming bike ride brings home how strong and resilient Luke is and his determination inspires me and hopefully a few others out there too.
by Charlie Fife