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!
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."
An update on our recent activities, June 2012
We are delighted to report that we are reaching more people who could benefit from our services: we helped a total of 639 different Visitors across our three Havens (in London, Hereford and Leeds) in the first four months of 2012. This is an 11% increase compared to last year in the same period. While breast cancer incidence rates increase, we are helping more women (and a small number of men) to improve their quality of life while they undergo treatment for breast cancer - and to find their way forward after it.
Outreach Support Days
We are expanding the outreach project we began last year to increase activities based outside of our Havens, with the aim of taking our specialised support services directly to patients wherever they are. Our pilot project of six Outreach Support Days, operating from our Hereford Haven, has been very successful and we are now planning ten more events, starting from July 2012. One Cardiff participant commented:
“The whole day was so useful. It was great to have the opportunity to meet other women and to share experiences. It would be wonderful to have something like your Haven in the south Wales area where it is more accessible for people like me.”
Healthcare Professional Awareness Days
These events have been a huge success in London, and our Leeds Haven successfully held its first session in May, with 16 healthcare professionals attending. The events are aimed at raising the profile of The Haven among breast care nurses so that they are aware of our free services and how we can help the breast cancer patients they are supporting. Our evaluation in Leeds showed that 100% of the participants would promote The Haven’s services to their patients.
Update on new services offered
Our Haven Macmillan Benefits Welfare and Money Management Adviser and Haven Macmillan Information and Support Manager are now operational and offer a variety of new services. These services are based in London but can support Visitors accessing care and treatment at our other locations; support from these posts is also available for people affected by any kind of cancer, including breast cancer.
"My medical team was very caring but I felt a bit lost after the treatment had ended. The medical side of things had been taken care of but I couldn’t help thinking: “What next?”
Case Study-Sukhi , a London VisitorI was going through an extremely difficult emotional time with my husband working abroad a lot and I couldn’t see the way ahead – but as soon as I entered The Haven building, I felt comforted, safe and nurtured. It became my lifeline. All the therapists were fantastic but it was emotional healing, acupuncture and mind and body therapy that were most empowering and helped me to put my life back on track.
I finished the cancer treatment over a year ago, and I now feel that the future is going to be a healthy one. I owe The Haven such gratitude. It is truly worthy of its name.
One in eight women in the UK will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in her life. Our free programme of care can make such a difference to our Visitors’ health and wellbeing, and we are extremely grateful to all our supporters at Global Giving for helping us to care for women and their families affected by breast cancer.
More free therapy sessions for our Visitors: We now provide ten free sessions of one-to-one treatment as part of our Haven programme. Our sincere thanks to Walk the Walk whose funding has made this possible. Team Haven is also gearing up for London’s MoonWalk in May.
London 2012: The Haven’s torchbearer, Moira Starkey
Our 84 year old fundraiser has been selected as an Olympic torchbearer due to her tireless fundraising. Moira, who uses two walking sticks, completed a full 26 mile marathon by taking 1,876 laps of her village hall over three months. Moira is preparing for her Olympic glory by walking another marathon.
Partnership with Macmillan Cancer Support: We are delighted that Macmillan Cancer Support has awarded us funding for two new posts to be based at our Haven in London. This partnership will ensure that that people affected by cancer will have access to a wider range of support and services.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) for women with breast cancer
The largest and most rigorous study of its kind investigating the impact of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) on women with breast cancer has been published online by the prestigious Journal of Clinical Oncology. MBSR is a way of learning to relate directly to whatever is happening in life, and consciously and systematically working with stress, pain, illness and life’s challenges and demands.
Led by Dr Caroline Hoffman, The Haven’s Clinical and Research Director, the study results show statistically significant improvements in mood, anxiety, depression, anger, vigour, fatigue and confusion for women in the MBSR group compared to women in the control group, which indicates that MBSR could help thousands of women with breast cancer.
Visitor Lisa Hamilton Jones says: “For the first time in months I felt that a veil had lifted and that I was really living again. By the end of the course I had regained my positive attitude to life, I could cope with the stress I was under – I could control my anger, and although I still felt desperately upset at times, I could handle it. The eight weeks spent on the MBSR course were totally life-changing.”
Visit by HRH The Countess of Wessex to our Haven in Yorkshire
It was our team in Yorkshire’s very great pleasure to welcome HRH The Countess of Wessex, The Haven’s Patron, to our beautiful Haven in Leeds city centre. The Countess took a tour of the building and spent time meeting and speaking to Visitors. The Countess said: “I’m completely and utterly devoted to The Haven. Thank you for everything you’re doing. Please keep doing it, because it is hugely appreciated.”
The Haven – January update
This month our project update focuses on Melanie – one of our many younger visitors, who has joined our Younger Women’s Support Group at The Haven. We help women of all ages, and the risk of breast cancer increases as you get older – 1 in 8 women are now at risk of getting this disease at some point in their lives. We hope this case study highlights for all our supporters the importance of the support we provide to women like Melanie.
Thank you to all of you that have supported us so generously so far.
Melanie Daly, 44, Putney, London
Going through breast cancer as a young woman and with little family support is really isolating and you have different concerns to older women. That’s why the Younger Women’s Support Group at the Haven is so important to me.
I have always been fit and healthy, I go to the gym regularly, eat well and look after myself, so it was a real shock when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt cheated. I’m young, this isn’t supposed to happen to me now - it’s not in the game plan.
Treatment was really hard. It included a lumpectomy, six lots of chemo and 26 days of radiotherapy. I don’t have much family and it was daunting to face it alone. I felt very isolated.
Despite feeling physically and emotionally drained I had to continue working. I live alone and do contract work, so couldn’t afford not to be earning. At first I was in denial. This thing was just happening to me but I was trying to carry on as normal. It was only when all my hair fell out that reality hit me. I looked like a cancer patient.
Many other women I met were much older than me. No disrespect to them and what they were going through but they just had such different concerns. They had already had their families and careers. I remember being in a Lympoedema group and saying, “I want to be able to get back to the gym” and they were saying, “ I just want to be able to do the ironing”! In a way that made me feel worse – why me? Why now? I’m in my prime!
Someone at The Marsden told me about The Haven. It was the Younger Women’s Support Group that turned things around for me. I walked in and everyone was like me. I finally felt “this is the place for me!” I’ve come most months since then and it is a huge relief to talk to women with similar concerns such as, having a family, earning money, having a fulfilling career and staying fit. In the early days it was reassuring to meet people further on in their recovery. It’s great to know your eyelashes will eventually grow back! Now I also hope I can offer others some inspiration.
Although I still have my dark times and Taxmoxifen still sometimes makes me feel like I’m trapped in an old lady’s body – I’m alive! A friend gave me a card which sums it up. It said: “Just when the caterpillar thought that life was over, she turned into a butterfly”. My friends at the Young Woman’s Support Group have really helped me be that butterfly.
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