The Haven

Our aim is to help anyone with breast cancer to achieve the best possible quality of life, not just while they are coping with their illness, but long into the future. The Haven is committed to innovating constantly and developing our breast cancer support programme in order to provide the most comprehensive and highest quality support service available. We will seek to expand The Haven programme's availability within the UK to help as many people as possible.
Mar 25, 2014

The Haven Quarterly Report March 2014

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, March 2014

Major boost for the Haven in Wessex Appeal

We were delighted to announce at the end of February that we have purchased a beautiful period property in the picturesque village of Titchfield in Hampshire, which will eventually become our fourth Haven centre. With Wessex having one of the highest rates of breast cancer in the UK, the new centre will provide vital one-to-one support for the nearly 3,000 breast cancer patients in the region. Clare Morgan who visited the London Haven welcomed this news:

“The Haven was essential for me as it provided a safe tranquil environment, particularly after finishing treatment, where everyone understood exactly what you were going through. No one should have to travel far when they feel ill, let alone travelling into London from as far as Portsmouth during chemotherapy. The breast cancer patients of Wessex really need this essential one-to-one support centre closer to home.”

Tocover the costs of purchasing, refurbishing, and converting the building into a Haven, as well as providing initial running costs for the first two years, the Haven in Wessex team has to hit the fundraising target of £2.5m. So far over £800,000 has been raised through a series of events, challenges, grants from trusts and foundations, and major donations. We hope to be able to open the new Haven in April 2015.

The Haven in your kitchen

In January we launched a much awaited book, The Haven in your kitchen Seasonal recipes for healthy living. This new publication is a companion to The Haven’s Guide to Healthy Eating which we published in 2013. This latest Haven publication aims to educate and inspire breast cancer patients and their families to use food to develop a healthier lifestyle. We have received excellent feedback from Haven visitors and non-visitors alike who have all been amazed at how tasty healthy food can be. The new book has over 60 recipes based on the four seasons and packed full of beautiful photographs. The book is available from our website at a suggested donation of £10 ($16.50)

An evening with Martin Clunes

Martin Clunes, the British actor best known for playing the title role in the hit comedy TV series Doc Martin, got behind The Haven in a fundraising event this month. The actor took part in an intimate, but frank, interview about his life and career in front of an audience of his fans and Haven supporters. An audience member asked Clunes “I’m sorry but I’ve been asked by one of your fans in America – what do you smell like?” The surprised star replied: “Nivea with a bit of Matey bubble bath at the weekends”. It was a terrific and fun evening and the charity hopes to raise thousands of pounds through an online auction which includes a walk-on part in the next series of Doc Martin.

A Visitor’s story, Mausumi, 44

I qualified as a doctor in 2005 and moved up to Yorkshire to work in Leeds and be nearer my parents. I was diagnosed in summer 2013. After a five hour appointment at the breast clinic I was told I had grade four breast cancer and that I was likely to need a mastectomy and chemotherapy. One of the problems of being a doctor yourself is that people assume you understand exactly what is going on and that you can take news about yourself as a medical professional rather than as a human being, which you can’t. It was a horrible experience and I was on my own which made it even worse. Fortunately, I did see the breast care nurse afterwards who was incredibly kind and supportive.

My first reaction was shock, and the initial fear that it was terminal. I wasn’t that familiar with breast cancer terminology and to me hearing “grade four breast cancer” was very scary. My second thought was more positive – I had no regrets. I had followed my passion for travel and had seen the world. As the news sank in, I started to worry about telling my family and friends. We had had a particularly tough year, losing a friend to lung cancer, and my father being diagnosed with prostate cancer. I wasn’t sure how they would take yet more bad news. The hardest person I had to tell was my Dad.  I had to wait until after the Wimbledon semi-final so I didn’t ruin it for him, but when I told him, he was in tears. Nothing prepares you for having to break the news to everyone else. It’s awful and I found myself having to stay positive and console the person I had just broken the news to. I was surprisingly calm but also in a bit of a daze.

I had initially heard about the Haven at a doctor’s education evening and was so impressed that I took some information back to my medical colleagues, so when I was diagnosed I immediately got in touch. I needed something to get me through the treatment and help with the anxiety I was feeling.

I went to an introduction day where I found out about everything the Haven had to offer and it was good to meet other women there. I then had an initial consultation with Debbie. It was so helpful being able to talk things through with her and together we decided on my programme of support. I saw the nutritionist, and the medical herbalist who gave me some herbal medicine to help me get through my first few sessions of chemo. She was so kind and gave me great hope. I also had Reiki, which was amazing and deeply relaxing. I have also tried lots of the different groups and classes, including tai chi, yoga, belly dancing, a mindfulness course and the sing therapy group.  It’s great to be able to come here. It provides a structure to my life at the moment and it is such a supportive environment to come in to. It feels like family, and it means so much to find that there are people who really care about you, and want to help you in whatever way they can. 

You are treated very much as an individual at The Haven and the support is very flexible when your situation changes. I had a particularly difficult time between my fourth and fifth chemo session, when I was told that the cancer could have re-appeared. I became very anxious as the potential reality of my situation started to sink in. I saw Debbie again who saw that I needed some help with dealing with anxiety and preparing for the future. I went to a meditation group that very afternoon, and immediately felt much better. Thankfully there was no reoccurrence. 

I’ve now finished treatment and am excited about the future.  I want to work more closely with breast cancer patients, and get involved in using mindfulness when dealing with pain and illness. I can’t sing The Haven’s praises enough. You just enter this amazing, nurturing environment and feel supported. You can turn up looking however you like and there is no judgement, just complete empathy. It really has changed my life. Thank you so much.


Jan 3, 2014

The Haven Quarterly Report January 2014

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, January 2014

        The Haven in your kitchen

Later this month we will be publishing a much awaited book, The Haven in your kitchen Seasonal recipes for healthy living. This new publication is a companion to The Haven’s Guide to Healthy Eating which we published in 2013. It is our hope that both these books will help educate and inspire breast cancer patients to use food to develop a healthier lifestyle. The charity’s nutritional therapists have chosen healthy recipes that have been particularly popular with our Visitors for people to try at home. The new book, which will have over 60 recipes based on the four seasons and packed full of beautiful photographs, will be available to order from our website from the end of January. 

         Opening up our service to help more people

From February, the London Haven will be trialling a new service which will enable more people to access our programme. Up until now our service has only been available during office hours, Monday to Friday, but thanks to funding from a trust we will now be able to open one evening a week, offering help to those patients that are unable to access our service during working hours. The trial will run until the end of July and if we see a good take-up of the evening opening we will aim to roll this out across all our Havens.

         Breast Cancer Awareness Month boosts awareness and funding

Throughout October The Haven ran a series of awareness and fundraising events under the campaign banner Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each Haven had a packed programme of activity involving the local community, our Visitors and our corporate supporters to help boost awareness of our unique support service and raise vital funds for the charity. We were delighted to have raised nearly £170,000 during the month from this activity.

          The Haven in Wessex Appeal 

The appeal finished 2013 on a high with a stunning carol concert held in the prestigious and historic chapel at Winchester College. The beautiful candle-lit service included readings from several celebrities including Julian Fellowes, the creator of the hit TV series Downton Abbey. So far the Appeal has raised £800,000 which has made a substantial dent in the £2.5 million target to open a new centre in Wessex.

         A Visitor’s story, CJ 

I was pretty proactive with screening because my maternal aunt had breast cancer, but when I asked my radiographer “what do you think” and his sharp intake of breath confirmed the worst, I was totally unprepared for the complete shock I felt. Our adopted boys were then 8 and 11 and my first thought was that I didn’t want to die and abandon the boys – they had already had the upheaval of adoption in their young lives – I couldn’t do it to them again.

Following the initial shock and fear I became strangely calm. I didn’t want the boys to suspect that anything was at all wrong. They needed stability in their lives so until we knew what we were dealing with, I wanted to keep things as normal as possible for them. I got on with telling my close friends and waiting for my treatment. I had a lumpectomy, six cycles of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. The cumulative effect of all this made me feel awful. Chemo leaves you very vulnerable to any infections and although I looked after myself and stayed away from lots of people, I just could not miss my sons’ Christmas concerts, so I took the risk and sure enough I caught a cold which put me in hospital for five days.

I picked up a leaflet about The Haven at hospital when I was first diagnosed. I was keen to try anything that might help, so I came in and met the nurse specialist who discussed what support might be most beneficial for me. I spoke to the nutritional therapist who analysed my diet and suggested practical ways that I could improve it; maintain a good weight and even out the peaks and dips in my energy levels. I also had acupuncture which helped to increase my white blood cell count so that I could stay on schedule with my chemotherapy appointments. Keeping to schedule was really important to us as a family because changes to the plan were very unsettling for the boys. I also knew that I needed some help in managing stress on a long term basis and this is where mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) really helped. I went to a class and could see how it would be really useful so I signed up for the Haven course to learn more and I can now practice it at home and it has become a part of my life.

Coming to The Haven has been very good for me. Even just coming in for lunch, to read some books and have a chat with some of the other women going through the same thing is very restorative. You don’t have to explain your situation to everyone – they all just understand.

Oct 7, 2013

Up date on the Matterhorn Challenge

The Progress of the Haven in Wessex Appeal – the Matterhorn Challenge

They did it! on the 23rd August 2013 they all did it!!!  - Amazing men all - Photographs will follow at some point soon. Setting off at 3 in the morning and getting to the top by about 9 am - back down by 2 in the afternoon. Counted out and counted back in - relief and much joy surrounding their safe return. 

E-mail from Anna Hellier whose husband Tim made the Ascent.

"To be honest it was an extremely emotional journey and - whilst there we experienced just a little of what the boys were facing and it was absolutely terrifying!! We (3 wives and 6 children) also looked after all the climbers and guides during the preparation period, catering for 25 every evening! We had a very happy moment with all climbers and guides crowded around a laptop for Sally's splendid South Today film which was really motivating- thank you Sally! 

On the morning of the climb Jenny Woodman, Rosie Bentley and I spent a very sweaty few hours from 6 in the morning with binoculars trained on the summit, sadly we couldnt see much. After waiting for news from 6:00 we finally heard from them around midday that the first few were down followed by rather a nervous wait until the rest had made it. we (3 wives and 6 children) then hiked as quickly as we could up the mountain pass for 2 hours to meet the boys coming down - elated but absolutely exhausted.

We discovered later that 6 people had died the previous week attempting the ascent!!

From The Haven in Wessex Appeal Manager- Lucy Hone

The Matterhorn Challengers have been pivotal in our campaign for a new Haven in the South of England.

The Haven is currently reaching out at 3 centres- London, Hereford and Leeds,  and the Haven in Hampshire – at the heart of the Wessex region – will be our 4th. It is an essential development in the plans we have to meet our mission that “no-one should ever have to go through breast cancer alone”

2,682 people are in treatment on this region – Hampshire and the margins of its bordering counties of Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Surrey and West Sussex. We will also be reaching out to the Channel Islands and the Isle of Wight – who have their treatment at Southampton.

The money donated from all around the world, from their friends and families, work colleagues and business contacts has raised a staggering £165,818.58. This includes the Gift Aid .

The Matterhorn Challengers have been crucial in allowing us to identify, and proceed towards a suitable property situated in the south of Hampshire. Their efforts have enabled us to begin the legal and procedural steps to ensure we can buy with confidence.

It equidistant from the two major cancer treatment centres of Southampton and Portsmouth, and within an hours travel of Bournemouth, Winchester, Basingstoke and Chichester. Travel from the Channel Islands and those on the Isle of Wight is usually  to Southampton, so this house is ideally placed.

A large and beautiful character property with plenty of accommodation for therapy rooms and office function it is perfect and its setting near peaceful riverside walks towards the sea and along footpaths into countryside helps extend the range of therapies available to our new visitors when we open.

With all fair conditions in our favour we would hope to have completed the purchase in the next few months and then renovation can begin. As a listed building it will need specialist approval so may well take longer than otherwise but in that time we will be fundraising to ensure that we open with 2 years funding in place to safeguard the early years of service.

We will forever be grateful to the Matterhorn men for their courage and dedication in taking our cause to their hearts. What they did was extraordinarily brave. This is no easily achievable afternoon stroll and their 8 months of training took a huge amount of dedication and resolve.

Never underestimate the determination of a group of men who want to do something different, decide to do it and who  make something very special happen- Here is your proof.

Thank you for your kindness in supporting them and in so doing, improve the future pathway for breast cancer patients in the South of England.

With enormous gratitude from The Haven 

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