A young girl who received care for leukemia in the dedicated children’s ward at Epsom Hospital is helping current and future cancer patients to keep entertained during a hospital stay, thanks to a generous donation of toys and activity packs.
Ten year old Rhea Oke was diagnosed with T-Cell acute Lymphoblastic leukaemia, which affects the lymphocytes (the white blood cells mostly used to fight viral infections) four years ago. During her extensive treatment, Rhea spent the equivalent of 18 months as an inpatient on Casey Ward at Epsom Hospital.
Because of the risk of infection, children undergoing chemotherapy cannot use the toys, pens and pencils that other children use, and their entertainment has to be new and unopened. To keep paediatric oncology patients entertained, staff on the ward provide special boxes for each child full of toys and activities that they like.
Rhea’s mum, Carley Oke, said: “After having spent so much time on the ward, Rhea knows only too well how it feels to be bored when in isolation. The team on Casey always tried their hardest to keep her entertained and the boxes were a life saver when we were admitted.
“The play specialist did their best to keep the boxes topped up so that each time we came in for treatment, whether it was for half a day or weeks at a time, we weren’t bored being in our room.
“Rhea loves to help people, especially other children who are going through what she has been through, as she can connect with how they feel. It was her idea to donate art and craft kits, board games, books and puzzles to put into the oncology boxes.”
Noreen Hughes, Lead Clinical Nurse Specialist in the Paediatric Oncology Shared Care Unit (POSCU) at Epsom Hospital, said: “We would like to say a massive thank you to Rhea and her family for all of the donations for our oncology boxes.
“We are so pleased to see how well Rhea is doing – the strength and maturity she showed throughout her treatment kept everyone around her so strong, there was always a massive smile on her face to brighten up the room.”
If you would like to make a donation to our children’s wards, or support our official charity, visit www.epsom-sthelier.nhs.uk/esth-charity.