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 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. 

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! 

Sep 13, 2012

The Haven Breast Cancer Support Centre's report

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, September 2012


        Haven fundraisers carry Olympic Torch

Two of our supporters who have raised thousands of pounds for our Hereford support centre, were given the honour of carrying the Olympic Torch in the relay which covered large parts of the UK. Octogenarian, Moira Starkey, carried the torch from her wheelchair whilst being pushed by another of our fundraising heroes, Mike Chandler. Helen Cleaver who was a past Haven Visitor and now a dedicated fundraiser also carried the torch in the region. 


        Mind-boggling fundraising challenges

We are so delighted that people choose The Haven as their charity to support and take on breath-taking physical challenges to raise large sums of money for us. These are just two of these amazing heroes: 


Mike Chandler, a postman from Hereford, has run many marathons for The Haven in the past but this year he wanted to push himself that much further. Mike literally ran all the way from   Hereford to our London support centre pushing his postman’s trolley all the way. This incredible feat took him six days which was basically a marathon every day. After arriving at The Haven he then went on to take his place in the London Marathon.  This challenge raised over £20,000.

Ettienne de Beer’s wife, Patricia, visited The Haven in London after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ettienne was so amazed at his wife’s improvement in her health and wellbeing after experiencing our programme that he felt compelled to put something back. He has now embarked on a challenge never attempted before. He is circumnavigating the entire UK coastline by running and cycling in just 50 days and will cover 6719 kilometres. He hopes to raise £100,000 for this gruelling challenge.


        Helping more people with our service

We were delighted to receive funds to run an outreach programme from our Hereford centre. This involved our clinical team going on the road to introduce our support programme to people with breast cancer in several towns and cities in the region. Following the success and take-up of this programme we will be offering more outreach days in the coming months.  

“A great day of information and a chance to meet other ladies with the same concerns of mine. Ladies who gave the talk very interesting”. Outreach delegate


        Two new Haven services

Through help from Macmillan Cancer Support we are now able to offer two new services at The Haven.  

Welfare Benefits & Money advice – A cancer diagnosis can have a huge financial impact on people’s lives and finding out about the various benefits on offer can be a daunting task. We now have a specialist adviser at our London Haven who offers high quality welfare benefits and money advice.

Information & support at The Haven – A specialist based at our London Haven can now provide the information and support people need at the time they need it most. This can cover information on cancer treatments, side effects and other related issues.


        Downton Abbey cast support The Haven

Members of the hit drama Downton Abbey appeared at our annual fundraising party at the Chelsea Physic Garden which raised an impressive £40,000.  


        A Visitor’s story, Katie Krivan, London

 “It feels like a safe place to go and there's nothing like talking to someone who has been through the same things that you have.

 Not many people can say a lion bite saved their life but it is true for me. I had never really checked my breasts before, at 30 I never worried about breast cancer, but in January 2011 when I was volunteering at a lion park in South Africa a lion bit me on the breast so I kept a close eye on it. In April I noticed a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer the following month. It was the worst day of my life. I went through all emotions at once - shock, denial, anger, hopelessness and devastation. I thought: “This happens to other people, not me – I’m too young”. My parents flew over from New Zealand and I had surgery four days later.

My medical team said I had a borderline need for chemotherapy but I made the decision myself to go ahead with it. I was so sick that I couldn't even get out of bed. I suffered insomnia, mouth ulcers, mouth thrush, achy body, headaches and was often near to collapsing. I also lost my nice thick hair which was devastating. 

The Haven has been really great. Counselling is really helpful because it gives me time to focus on myself and talk about what I have been through with someone experienced. The Young Women's Support Group gives me a chance to meet and share coping strategies and experiences with others in a similar position to me. It feels like a safe place to go and there's nothing like talking to someone who has been through the same things that you have - especially as all my family lives in New Zealand and I often feel very far from home. Aromatherapy massages are wonderful and relaxing and definitely a treat after everything I have been through.

Looking back I can't believe what I have gone through. People tell me I’ve coped amazingly but the truth is that I do worry that the cancer will come back. For now though, I am just so grateful to still be alive."


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