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.
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.


Attachments:
Mar 7, 2013

The Haven Quarterly Report March 2013

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, March 2013

 

Helping more people through the trauma of breast cancer

The Haven has seen well over 200 new Visitors across its centres since January. Breast cancer diagnosis has unfortunately risen in the UK over recent years. While it is great news that people are surviving longer with better treatments and earlier diagnoses, it does mean that there are more and more breast cancer patients out there that need our in-depth and personalised support. We are now embarking on an expansion programme so we can help more people and have already started raising funds for a new centre in the South of England. Watch this space. 


Surgery Monday, catwalk Sunday!

Our Yorkshire Haven organised an amazing fundraising event in early March which involved 18 of its Visitors as models for a fashion show at a top hotel in Leeds. The Blossom event celebrates breast cancer recovery and underlines how our help can get women back on track and re-build their self-confidence. Marie Phillips who has had a bilateral mastectomy bravely offered to model some swimwear and lingerie. She then discovered that the final part of her reconstructive surgery was due literally days before the show. She still went ahead and strutted her stuff on the catwalk! We salute you Marie.

 

Mothering Bunday – making buns to raise funds

 

The people of Hereford will be going baking crazy for Mother’s Day in the UK which is on 10 March. To coincide with this day when we celebrate and reflect on motherhood, our Hereford Haven is encouraging people to get baking buns and other tasty treats to raise funds for The Haven under the campaign banner Mothering Bunday. The idea has already captured the imagination of the local population with an ever growing social media presence. Please like them on Facebook

 

Helping breast cancer patients with their weight

The Haven in London introduced a new class after Christmas due to a growing need. One of the side effects of breast cancer treatment is weight gain and once that treatment is over people find it hard to shed those pounds. Our nutritional therapist introduced a new weight management class in January taking place weekly, offering helpful tips, tailored advice and recipes. It has proved to be very popular with our Visitors who are now well on their way to achieving a healthier weight.


A Visitor’s story, Hannah Rains, 26, London

I was originally misdiagnosed at 22 years old, so I had been living with a cancerous tumour inside me for nearly two years. Knowing only a little about cancer and its progression I was sure that it would have spread to other areas of my body but tests and scans later showed that fortunately this was not the case, although it had spread to my lymph nodes.

All of my initial concerns and worries were surrounding my late diagnosis. Once I had CT, bone and MRI scans that showed the cancer had remained local, I began to focus on the surgery and treatment ahead. I decided to move back to my hometown of Leeds for my treatment which meant moving away from my boyfriend of six years who was studying for a degree at the time. Emotionally I started to struggle and physically I was suffering from fatigue, difficulty sleeping and anxiety.

I went to The Haven in Leeds who put together a programme of support for me. It included Shiatsu massage and reflexology which both helped hugely with the physical symptoms and helped me to relax. Just getting out of the house and having somewhere to go at a time when I was at risk of infection was good for me. The Younger Women’s support group was really helpful and beneficial. Although I was still quite a bit younger than the other Visitors, it was so good to meet other people in a similar situation, who understood what I was dealing with. We always stayed after the group to enjoy a healthy lunch at The Haven and continue our chat. I’m still good friends with some of the women I met there.

I am now living back in Newcastle and have returned to work as a Physiotherapist and finished my course of herceptin in June 2012. I recently passed the one year mark of taking tamoxifen – only four to go! The Haven is a wonderful, relaxing and welcoming place to go at any point before or after treatment. Everybody that I met was so friendly and supportive and I can’t thank them enough for helping me through the toughest part of my life. 


Attachments:
Dec 4, 2012

The Haven quarterly report December 2012

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, December 2012

 

 

        Breast Cancer Awareness month (BCAM)

The Haven was very busy during October which is globally known as Breast Cancer Awareness Month (BCAM). This focus on breast cancer issues gives charities like ours a valuable opportunity to raise awareness about what we do and also helps to raise precious funds. We were delighted to work with a new corporate partner this year – Ugg Australia, the US makers of the famous sheepskin boots. They produced a Pink Ribbon Collection which was sold globally to help breast cancer charities the world over. The Haven was lucky to be selected as the UK charity to benefit from this campaign. We hope to raise $32,500 from this partnership. 

 

 

        Husband pushes himself to the limits for wife & The Haven

A young husband whose wife had breast cancer undertook the physical challenge of his life to help raise money for The Haven. His wife, Patricia, attended our London centre and her husband was so impressed by how much this boosted her recovery that he felt compelled to put something back. Ettienne de Beer, circumnavigated the entire UK coastline (4500 miles) by running and cycling in just 50 days in September/October. Having successfully completed this gruelling challenge, Ettienne hopes to raise around $160,000 for The Haven.

 

 

        Easing the financial concerns of breast cancer patients

 

Having money worries on top of coping with a serious illness can be overwhelming. Many people find that they are unable to work but still have bills to pay, or they are in retirement and finding their savings depleted. In the first two months of a new Welfare Benefits & Money service, our Adviser has helped over 50 people gain available benefits and grants.

 

“At a time when I was mentally and physically low – not to mention financially desperate – I benefited greatly from The Haven’s exceptional care and assistance. The service was of the greatest value to me” – Alexandra, London Haven

 

 

        Helping the Storm Sandy victims

 

The Haven’s Chief Executive, Pamela Healy, was planning take part in the New York Marathon to raise money for the breast cancer charity, Walk the Walk, in November. Because of the devastation caused by Storm Sandy the event was understandably cancelled. As Pam was already in New York, she, along with several other women, took part in the rescue effort, taking food and supplies to those affected in Statten Island. She found it a particularly moving experience but was glad that she could be some help during this dreadful time for the city.

 

        New acupuncture study

 

The Haven was delighted to provide case studies and its Acupuncture therapists for a new study into how the practice can alleviate cancer related fatigue. The research conducted by the University of Manchester in conjunction with the charity, Breakthrough Breast Cancer, found acupuncture to be effective in helping patients affected by fatigue. Acupuncture is one of the most popular therapies offered at The Haven with many of our Visitors saying that it helps with a range of side effects caused by breast cancer treatment.

 

 

        A Visitor’s story, Lisa Morgan, London

 

It sounds crazy but when I was diagnosed, my initial thought was “how on earth am I going to tell my family?” I was 42, about the same age as my mum was when she had breast cancer over 20 years ago so it was going to bring back a lot of painful memories. Although I already knew a fair amount about treatment, I was pretty emotional and knew I needed some post-op support.

 

My breast care nurse gave me a leaflet about The Haven so called them up and the lady I spoke to was really kind and reassuring. After listening patiently as I blurted everything out she said “we can help” and invited me in. It was incredible; I felt an immediate sense of relief just knowing that I wouldn’t have to burden my husband and family with my emotional outpourings quite so much. I came in to see The Haven’s nurse, and again let it all out whilst she explained how the Haven worked. She really listened to me and suggested things I would find helpful. At the end of it, I had a personalised, tailored programme of therapies which helped me feel as though I could start to regain a sense of control.

Mind Body therapy was amazing. The therapist asked some quite challenging, emotionally charged questions and showed me some powerful visualisation techniques to help with my anxiety.  She has a very calming influence and I always left her sessions a lot more composed than when I walked in. She made me start to think about things in a different way. I started to take stock of where I was rather than just rushing around trying to figure it all out for myself.

 

I went to see the Medical herbalist and believe that the herbs she prescribed- a tincture to help with the toxifying effects of radiotherapy, a calming tea and some soothing skin cream to treat the affected area - made my radiotherapy a lot more bearable than it might have been. I didn’t suffer any of the burns or the fatigue that I’ve heard some other people have.

 

The ‘Living Well. Moving On’ course I attended was also really helpful. We were all at slightly different stages of our post-treatment journey so it was great to share experiences and realise that my current emotional state was ‘normal’ and simply part of the healing process. I found the life coaching models and homework we were given particularly helpful in focussing my mind and helping me look ahead.

 

And what next? Well, I learned that it was important to give myself time to heal, physically and emotionally, so I did just that and I’m now moving forward. I eat a healthy and well balanced diet. I’m doing some voluntary work and starting to think about returning to permanent work. Who knows, maybe I’ll even try something different. Whatever I end up doing, thanks to The Haven, I now have a number of self-help tools to help me cope, regain a sense of control and simply get on with normal life.  I can’t begin to explain how incredibly beneficial all my sessions were and, I really believe that I’m in a much better place to move on with my life thanks to all the wonderful people at the Haven. Thanks to them, the old Lisa is back! 


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