Everyone deals with adversity in different way; for many, a cancer diagnosis can feel like the world is ending and new endeavours are the last thing to be worrying about.

But for Dr Shara Cohen, 54, from Hendon and now living in High Barnet with her husband and daughters, she dedicated herself to starting Cancer Care Parcel, a gift company designed with special items in mind for those going through chemotherapy, even when she had no idea how long she might have left after her breast cancer diagnosis in 2013.

“I decided that I needed to get to work and make sure that if I was dying that I left my family secure,” she says.

“I had a different business then, so I changed the way I ran the business and did some things I was scared of doing before the diagnosis, as I felt I had nothing to lose.”

Shara sold her old company in 2016, but from diagnosis she began setting up the new business, choosing carefully selected gifts and creating hampers to put into the store.

She says: “When I went into hospital people were very generous and brought me lots of gifts. I was grateful but it felt strange - it wasn’t my birthday or any celebration and I didn’t want to be pampered.

“I wanted to get on with being treated and needed things that would help me on my way.

“But I understood. If you’ve never had cancer, how can you know what’s needed?”

The gifts in Shara’s online store are aimed to show people that the gift-giver is thinking of them, even if they don’t have the right words to say or know how to express themselves.

Watford Observer: Shara and her familyShara and her family

Before starting the business, Shara was a renowned scientist working to help find cures for rare diseases, inspired but her brother, who was born ill, and her niece who has a rare genetic condition.

But since her diagnosis, Shara has had to deal with many challenges, from going through radiotherapy, a lumpectomy, a hysterectomy and taking drugs which left her “brain-fogged” and unable to live life normally.

She says: “When I started on tamoxifen within a day I had brain fog. I could not concentrate.

“I had a meeting with staff and I couldn’t bring to the front of my mind the things I needed to say.

This was the most challenging time for business as if this had carried on the business would have collapsed.

“My husband and family were very supportive at that time and I just vegetated for about three weeks until my brain came back.

This experience helped me with the development of the cancer hampers, as we don’t, as a general rule, put anything mentally challenging in the cancer care boxes. “ For the future, Shara hopes the company will be able to provide information on how people can help those with cancer, as well as getting experts and researchers on board to grow their expertise and financial partners to help further their work.

But ultimately, Shara know one thing will be at the centre of her work: “Everyone is different, everyone’s treatment is different and everyone deals with their treatments differently.

“Sometimes you just have to push through the bad side effects, but there are other times that you need to acknowledge what you’re going through.

“Only you can decide how you feel both mentally and physically and this can change on a day to day basis.”

Visit cancercareparcel.co.uk/ for more information.