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.
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 

Oct 3, 2013

The Haven Quarterly Report September 2013

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, September 2013

We are getting closer to opening our fourth centre

In April we announced our plans to open a new Haven centre in the Wessex region of England. This area, which encompasses Hampshire, parts of Berkshire, Dorset and Sussex, has one of the highest numbers of breast cancer diagnoses in the UK. There is currently very little support available in Wessex to help people face the challenges of this dreadful disease so there is a clear need for our unique support programme. We need £2.5m to reach our goal of opening a fourth Haven and we are delighted to report that we have already raised well over £550,000. It is hoped that the new centre will open towards the end of 2014

Business-men reach the summit of one of Europe’s highest peaks

A lawyer, a banker, a consultant, two property experts, a financier and an IT specialist with a combined age of 350, have successfully climbed to the summit of the notorious Matterhorn in aid of The Haven in Wessex Appeal. Arguably one of the most challenging peaks in the region, the 4,478metre exposed ascent features a twelve hour rock climb and is notorious for claiming more lives per year than any other rock face in the Alps. The group had previously had very little mountaineering experience but trained hard as part of their preparations for the climb. They all made it to the top and managed to raise an incredible £155,000 towards the Appeal.

Helping cancer patients know their employment rights

Getting a cancer diagnosis can have a huge financial impact as people face lengthy treatment programmes and debilitating side effects causing them to take extensive sick leave. The London Haven has introduced a new seminar designed to give patients confidence and reassurance by helping them work out their rights and protections. This includes advice and guidance on: entitlement to sick pay and annual leave, time off for medical appointments, changes to working conditions and rights to privacy and confidentiality.

A short film about The Haven


A short film about how The Haven has helped three women recover from breast cancer was made in time to be launched at the charity’s annual signature event, Blush Cabaret in April. The film tells the women’s individual stories about the impact of having a breast cancer diagnosis but also how The Haven has given them a more positive outlook through its programme of therapies and support classes. The film can be viewed here.

A Visitor’s story, Maggie


“I had an almost inevitable feeling about my diagnosis. I’d found a small and very painful lump which stopped me sleeping in my favourite position and I just knew it was cancer. I was in the middle of a really a really terrible family crisis and I just thought “Yes of course it’s cancer - just one more awful thing to deal with,” though in a strange way it did make me focus more on myself instead of the family problem.

I was dealing with a lot of emotional pain that had nothing to do with the cancer and I also have had ME for about seven years, so was feeling pretty stressed. I knew that stress would lower my ability to cope with treatment and recovery and with so much going on, I knew that I needed some strong emotional support.

I was seeing an NHS nutritionist who recommended The Haven. She said, “They have the fullest information for dealing with all areas of breast cancer care,” so the day after my first radiotherapy session I phoned and spoke to the Haven Programme Manager. At my first appointment we discussed what was available. I wanted to have aromatherapy which had been helping with my ME symptoms for a while and also nutritional advice. I also needed help with my emotional upset and stress.

The individual counselling sessions really helped to get to the roots of my emotional problems and have given me effective techniques for dealing with strong negative feelings and stress. Group sessions such as Emotional Freedom Technique and Mindfulness taught me how to quiet my mind when things are stressful. I feel more secure in my ability to choose the right nutrition to keep me healthy and the aromatherapy sessions were blissful and calming.

All the advice I was given helped greatly and it was all given with calm reassurance and empathy. The Haven is aptly named. It has been my lifeline for almost a year now and I know will continue to be there for me.”

Jun 3, 2013

The Haven Quarterly Report June 2013

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, June 2013


        The Haven has now helped over 10,000 people with breast cancer

In April we recorded our 10,000th Visitor at The Haven since the charity established in 2000. Our celebrity ambassador Kimberley Walsh, said: “I experienced at first-hand just how vital The Haven’s support was when they were able to help a dear friend of mine. I am glad to say that my friend is now cancer-free and is living a full and active life. More and more people need to know about this amazing charity which offers such an important life-line to people who need emotional and physical help at such a traumatic time of their lives.”


        Fight cancer by getting fit

There is growing evidence from research studies suggesting that physical activity can reduce the impact of cancer symptoms, the side-effects from treatment and in many cases reduce the risk of cancer returning, improving long-term survival. UK charity Macmillan Cancer Care recently published a report which underlines the importance of physical exercise. In response to this The Haven has introduced a new class at its London centre which is a gentle introduction to getting fit and keeping fit through a combination of cardio-vascular exercise and strength training.


        Why The Haven is needed

We know that a growing need exists across the UK for the specialised help we give; sadly, the rate of incidences of breast cancer is increasing. Statistics released earlier this year showed that in 2010 almost 50,000 women were diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, which equates to 136 women per day.  Recent figures have also shown that the number of younger women diagnosed with breast cancer now totals more than 10,000 a year, an unprecedented development. While many women with breast cancer now have a more positive prognosis than ever before, we must be sure that each and every one gets the support she needs so that both she and her family can cope with the tremendous impact of this disease. 


        New Haven services reach more people with cancer

Our new partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support has proved very popular in meeting the needs not only of our Visitors but also of patients with any type of cancer.  Macmillan have provided a substantial grant towards two new posts in our Haven in London: an Information and Support Manager, to liaise with medical and community networks, to increase healthcare and patient awareness of our free services; and a Welfare Benefits and Money Management Adviser, to provide information and advice for Visitors and others with cancer on issues such as entitlement to state benefits and welfare provision. To date these new posts have supported 246 different Visitors by providing specialist advice services.  Having to cope with breast cancer and all that comes with it is hard enough for anyone, but for those who are struggling on a very limited income it can seem overwhelming.  This new service provision can make all the difference. 


        Comedy helps raise funds for The Haven

An evening of comedy and cabaret raised a massive £80,000 ($121,556) for The Haven. The charity's signature event, Blush Cabaret, now in its tenth year took place at the intimate Cafe de Paris in the heart of London's West End. After a three-course dinner and live auction, well known comedians and cabaret artists performed for free.


        A Visitor’s story, Pat Williams, Hereford


When I felt a small lump in my right breast the size of a pea I didn’t react too quickly because I couldn’t always feel it. With the benefit of hindsight I wish I had. When the hospital confirmed that it was cancerous, panic set in. I just couldn’t believe it was happening to me. I always felt well and was never ill. I remember going to bed that night and crying to my husband Pete that I didn’t want to die and leave him and my daughter, Victoria who was just eleven. Later, Pete emailed our friends but I just felt numb and I couldn’t talk to anyone.


Our main concern was for Victoria. Should we tell her, how would she react? We decided to tell her and answered all her questions as honestly as we could but without scaring her. She asked if I was going to die and if she would catch it - to which of course our answers were ‘no’.


When I spoke to my breast care nurse and doctor I started to feel a bit better but my first set-back came when I went in for a mastectomy and they found that the cancer had spread to my liver and spleen. As the realisation that I had secondary cancer dawned, I once again felt scared and numb. We decided not to tell Victoria about this latest blow.


During six months of chemo I felt very ill. I suffered with sickness, mouth thrush, constipation and diarrhoea. I felt spaced out and had no sense of taste. I was so tired that I needed an hour’s sleep most afternoons just to get me through the day. I felt desperate, depressed and couldn’t look at anything positively. Despite my supportive family and friends I felt very alone and my outlook on life was very bleak. I was emotional all the time and just couldn’t talk to anyone about it. One Sunday, having dinner at a friend’s, Pete read an article about The Haven in the Worcester County Magazine.  The next day he phoned up and booked me in and I’ve never looked back.


At the introduction day I just cried for most of the day. I could barely talk to anyone but one conversation I do remember was with Jan, the breast care nurse who said: “Try to look at having chemo differently. It may not have got rid of the cancer as you were hoping, but it has stopped it from spreading.” Such a simple line but true. It turned my life around and I started to think about things more positively from that point on.


After the introduction day I was given my free programme of therapies at The Haven. Acupuncture helped with nerve problems in my hands and also arthritis in my knees for which my knee surgery had been put on hold. Acupuncture kept the swelling down and with an aid of a stick, I am still mobile. I saw the nutritional therapist who helped me to change my diet by reducing my dairy and sugar intake and the medical herbalist suggested milk thistle which helps the liver to function. I have also had reflexology and shiatsu, Tai Chi and counselling, which has been invaluable. 


More setbacks came when cancer spread to my pelvis then lungs and more recently my bowel. We decided to tell Victoria and she is coping very well. Once a month I come to the secondary breast cancer support group. It is totally invaluable and helps tremendously. The ladies who attend this group are amazing and give me hope. They are so supportive and fun to be with. They listen, advise and encourage and are a total life-line – one that I wouldn’t have without The Haven.

Three years on, I feel optimistic about the future. My lung cancer has cleared, my pelvic cancer is reducing and my liver and spleen are stable. I’m a naturally positive person but I still have off days and get scared - I don’t think that ever goes away. I make the most of every minute of being with Pete and Victoria, and if an opportunity comes our way, we take it. I have had the most amazing support. My family and friends are so strong and supportive and the people at The Haven are wonderful too – really encouraging and no matter how you feel they can empathise. They help get me through each day.

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