Featured Charity of the Month

Bosom Buds of Scotland

Article appeared in Konect Linlithgow, September 2016

Previously featured in Livingston, Bathgate and Calders editions February 14 

The mother of a local cancer patient was concerned by the lack of support for daily living with cancer and its treatment.... so along with her daughter (a breast cancer patient) and some friends, they set out to fill the gaps for other cancer patients. Since 2009 their West Lothian charity, Bosom Buds of Scotland, has brought dignity and hope to hundreds of women and men struggling with the daily challenges of living with cancer.

I met Linlithgow resident Mags, the lady behind Bosom Buds, and Trish, a patient who has become an important volunteer in the charity. “Cancer affects absolutely every aspect of your life. It's in the hundreds of details of daily life, things we take for granted but that a cancer patient struggles with, as well as emotional well-being and the rest of your family – that is what Bosom Buds addresses,” they explain.

Mags' daughter Kate was an extremely fit 23 year old when breast cancer struck. Although there are organisations that help younger people, for those over the age of 24 there was little support available locally. Chemotherapy is exhausting, and one thing Kate found, having been very fit before, was that you're too tired to go to normal fitness classes. One of the main services Bosom Buds offer is free fitness classes specially designed for cancer patients, where you can also meet people going through the same thing. These classes are run in Bathgate by Michael Smith of Personal Best in Armadale. Michael is fully qualified to help cancer patients with their rehabilitation, as well as carrying out massage therapy and arranging a walking group.

It affects everyone in different ways, but many lose their hair through chemo, including eyebrows and eyelashes. Bosom Buds have an arrangement with a hairdresser to procure real-hair wigs which are free of charge to patients, as well as arranging eyebrow tattoos (via a local salon) for those who want them until their own eyebrows grow back. Working closely with the oncology unit at St John's Hospital in Livingston (to which they donate regularly) Bosom Buds also run pamper days for patients referred by St John's. They have secured Dundas Castle for a day in April next year to run a pamper day for the metastatic ladies.

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I spoke to a patient whose life had fallen to pieces after her cancer diagnosis – a successful career women who lost her job and house within a short space of time and wasn't coping well. Until she was referred to “mindfulness” classes via Bosom Buds. “Mindfulness changed my life,” she says. “The classes helped me to manage my situation a lot better.” The classes are run by Tina Gilbert, a yoga and mindfulness instructor from Livingston.  They are free of charge to cancer patients as well as separate classes for their relatives and friends and have proved invaluable to many patients in coping with their situation.

The activities of the charity are too numerous to mention here. From providing individuals with mastectomy bras through to annual donations to Breakthrough (the breast cancer research organisation) , the real contribution that Bosom Buds makes is incalculable – there is no way of measuring the emotional well-being, self esteem, even the will to live that can be given back through providing practical support with every aspect of daily living.  As Bosom Buds say, “Cancer can take away your dignity, Bosom Buds helps get it back!”

Fundraising

Bosom Buds are here for us in West Lothian when we are touched by cancer, as everyone will be at some point either directly or indirectly. All money Bosom Buds spends or donates comes from fund-raising activities- the generosity and support of the local community and local businesses. Ladies nights, sponsorship events such as a firewalk and abseil from the Forth Rail Bridge and “Bing Blazer” annually in May are examples of their activities. Teams under the Bosom Buds banner enter demanding events such as Tough Mudder and the Edinburgh Marathon.

Sainsbury's in Linlithgow have nominated Bosom Buds as their charity of the year this year, and are looking for books for a book sale to raise funds. Please take any books you can donate into the store. The committee are also collecting bric a brac for sale at antique fairs as one of their volunteers Cathie Macdonald has a special interest.

Bosom Buds are especially grateful to Rhoddy Stewart Photography who provides his services free of charge for the pamper days; Michael Smith of Personal Best in Armadale who goes over and above regularly by donating his time and skills at events; Policy Services of Grangemouth named Bosom Buds their charity of the year a couple of years ago and continue to fundraise and provide support; Atkin Framers of Livingston have been very supportive, providing prizes for events, fundraising and networking; Many other local businesses an individuals donate raffle prizes, time and expertise.

Sadly Kate is no longer with us and it is a difficult time for the family but they continue to keep Bosom Buds going with support from the committee. Anyone is welcome to get involved and every single contribution is valued. Bosom Buds encourages people to come forward and help out at events or hold their own event. Contact Bosom Buds at info@bosombudsofscotland.org to get involved.