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.
Aug 25, 2015

The Haven Quarterly report August 2015

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, August 2015

          We won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

For the first time ever, The Haven exhibited a garden at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The artisan garden, designed by nine times’ Gold medal winner Sarah Eberle, was called Breast Cancer Haven and aimed to evoke the feelings that our Visitors get when they walk through the doors of our Haven centres. The stunning garden design, which centred around a willow woven oak leaf ‘nest’, was inspired by The Haven’s uplifting and reassuring support programme. We were all delighted to win one of the coveted Chelsea Gold medals. We also won the support of the public who voted our garden The People’s Choice. The whole Chelsea experience has given us an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of our charity’s breast cancer support programme to around 200,000 members of the public that visit the Show every year.

          Opening date for our new Wessex Haven

The excitement is building as we now have an opening date for our new Wessex Haven. During Breast Cancer Awareness Month on 23 October we will be opening our doors to the many hundreds of women affected by breast cancer in the Wessex region. This will include the counties of Hampshire, Sussex, Dorset as well as the Isle of Wight and the Channel Islands. This will now take the total of Haven support centres to four, with more planned to open in the future.

         Our website will be getting a bright new facelift

A generous donor has enabled us to build a brand new website for the charity. The new site, which will be fully mobile optimised, will have a simple, but eye-catching contemporary design, where visitors will be able to access information at just one click. Our growing social media presence will also be fully integrated into the site. The site is due to go live at the end of August.

          Celebrities get behind our designer t-shirt campaign

Top celebrities, including singing sensation, Kylie Minogue and Olympic medallist, Louis Smith MBE, will be getting behind our new designer t-shirt campaign. Clothes designer, Savannah Miller, sister to international film-star Sienna, has designed two exclusive t-shirts for The Haven which will be sold on the UK’s top clothing website ASOS during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A long list of celebrities will be photographed modelling the t-shirt which will be shared across social media. We are hoping that the celebrity endorsement will help raise awareness of  the charity and boost sales of the t-shirt which will benefit several women who need our vital services.

          A Visitor’s story, Michelle

 “I had a serious bicycle accident and then received a letter saying I needed breast surgery within the same week!”

 A year ago I found a lump when I was doing yoga, I’ve always had lumpy breasts and so I usually ignored it but this time the lump was sore.  I went to the doctor and within a week they saw me at Guy’s Hospital. A scan discovered lots of cysts so they took a biopsy. 

The following day I went cycling with my husband and I was belting down Camberwell High Rd when I was thrown off my bicycle and was knocked unconscious. I was rushed to King’s trauma unit with a head injury and a hairline fracture to the jaw. It was very traumatic and that week passed in a daze of pain killers. At the end of that week I received the next shock - a letter from Guy’s saying that I had to have breast surgery.

Three weeks after my accident I had the surgery and then because I am an actor and singer, almost immediately I had to go on stage to do a play.  After the play had finished I had more surgery where they removed a collection of pre-cancerous cells. My next appointment was on New Year’s Eve where the Oncologist told me that I should have radiotherapy. I couldn’t really take in what was happening to me. I thought “come on then, let’s get this thing over with” but really I was confused, angry and still in shock.

Having the radiotherapy and sitting with all the other people was when I woke up to it all and  took a huge nose-dive. It knocked me for six.  I couldn’t stop sleeping, I felt leaden with limited energy and lost my usual vivacious self.  

After my penultimate radiotherapy session I spoke to someone at Guy’s Dimbleby Cancer Centre who  told me about The Haven.  After my first chat with a senior therapist  I just felt like I had found my people and everything was going to be OK. The therapist suggested various therapies such as acupuncture  and craniosacral therapy, which amongst other things eased the shock I was still suffering from.  The nutritionist has revolutionised my life and the financial adviser  was incredibly informative and helpful.  The mind, body therapy sessions have really hit a chord and prompted me to make significant changes in my life around my career,  relationships and what makes me happy. 

I am feeling good now; much more positive about the future. I want to take the time to recalibrate the last year and move forward positively. I’m actually in a much better mind-set than even before my diagnosis and  a lot of this has been down to the inspiring people at The Haven.


Attachments:
May 26, 2015

The Haven Quarterly report May 2015

         We won a Gold Medal at the RHS Chelsea Flower Show

For the first time ever, The Haven exhibited a garden at the world famous RHS Chelsea Flower Show. The artisan garden, designed by nine times gold medal winner Sarah Eberle, was called Breast Cancer Haven and aimed to evoke the feelings that our Visitors get when they walk through the doors of our Haven centres. The stunning garden design, which centres around a willow woven oak leaf ‘nest’, is inspired by The Haven’s uplifting and reassuring support programme. We were all delighted to win one of the coveted Chelsea gold medals. The whole Chelsea experience has given us an unprecedented opportunity to raise awareness of our charity’s breast cancer support programme to around 200,000 members of the public that visit the Show every year.

          Another great London Marathon for The Haven

We had more runners than ever taking part in the London Marathon for The Haven in April. And for the tenth year running, a postman from Hereford, took part in his postie uniform and managed to raise an amazing £20,000. We are so grateful to these amazing people who help raise the vital funds we need to run our services.

         Our service users take to the catwalk

Leading UK premium clothing brand, LK Bennett, organised an evening of fashion and beauty to raise money for The Haven. Six of our London Haven service users took to the catwalk to model the brand’s spring/summer collection. We were delighted that the event raised well over £2,000 for the charity.

          Putting secondary breast cancer patients first

In conjunction with the UK’s leading website for parents, Mumsnet, we have just launched a spring campaign which aims to raise £50,000 to provide tailored support services for people coping with the emotional fallout and long-term treatment for secondary breast cancer.

         A Visitor’s story, Hannie

 “The people at The Haven have been my saviours. They gave me support when I needed it, helped me to understand what’s important and get my life back on track.

I was 29 when I noticed a lump in my left breast. I went to the hospital and they didn’t think it looked too suspicious and told me not to worry about it, but I just knew that there was something wrong. After the lump became larger my GP sent me back for a biopsy and the results showed abnormal cells.

My mother and brother were with me when they told me the diagnosis and they both started crying but I started laughing, I couldn’t control it, I think it was just total shock.  The doctor looked at me and asked if I was alright but I just said I was fine, I then turned to my mother and brother and said it’s alright I’m fine. That same week I had a pregnancy test and found out I was pregnant.

I was advised to terminate the pregnancy - they needed to concentrate on looking after me but I told them that I wasn’t prepared to do that and would let nature take its course.  I moved back in with my mum.

Within a week I went in for surgery and as I was 6 weeks pregnant at the time they changed the order of my treatment and decided to give me chemotherapy no earlier than my 2nd trimester.  

 When I started my chemotherapy I was working as a media consultant for a local newspaper and I did this right up until my daughter was due, looking back I don’t know how I managed this .  The weekend after I left work my contractions started and my daughter was born on the Monday.  It was a traumatic birth, I lost lots of blood and later haemorrhaged and they had to rush me back into hospital and give me a blood transfusion.  Because she was premature my daughter was born with a serious stomach condition Necrotizing Enterocolitis (NEC) and was given special fluids and kept in hospital for 6 weeks.   The day that she came home I had to go and have my second round of chemotherapy.   In the meantime my relationship broke up, my partner had promised to support me through my treatment but found he just couldn’t handle it.

I was determined to look after my daughter myself and I think I went into automatic “Mother” mode which just kept me going.  

This should have been the end of it but unfortunately the cancer came back very aggressively. They put me on a new course of chemotherapy drug and said if this didn’t work they didn’t know what they could do but they would help me through it.   My chest was the size of a watermelon but the new drug had an amazing effect, it halved in size with the first treatment and continued to reduce in size with each treatment. I then went in for a double mastectomy.

While all of this was going on I was living at my parent’s home but declined their help because if anything happened to me, I wanted to be the one who had done everything for my daughter.    My scars from my mastectomy were having trouble healing which they put down to my weakened immune system and then just as I was about to start my radiotherapy more lumps came up and so I had to go in for more surgery.   I had my 16 sessions of radiotherapy and that was all fine.    More recently I had a lump come up in my right breast so I had yet more surgery and a further 15 sessions of radiotherapy. The latest scan shows that it has not come back but I feel as if I am in limbo at the moment. I have been through an awful lot but my daughter has been my saviour. She’s 18 month’s old now. I think if she hadn’t been there I would have lost myself. 

Recently one of my friends from work was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and she asked me for advice.   I gave her what advice I could and she told me all about The Haven.  I’m so glad that I picked up the phone and went along.  They have been an amazing support and made me feel so welcome. They really listen which is so helpful especially when there is so much going on in your head.  Sometimes I have to take my daughter and they are always so nice to her, they don’t judge you they listen to you. I wish I had known about The Haven a lot sooner as it could have really helped me as I went through my treatment. I have had various therapies, acupuncture was amazing, massage left me feeling really relaxed and the nutritionist gave me some good dietary advice and recommended vitamins to take.   I’m now looking forward to going to “Mind and Body” session to help with stress.  

I look at the future now more positively, a year ago I had been really scared not knowing if I was going to make it or not but I just want to be here with Grace and watch her grown up.   I really appreciate that I have had 18 months with her and now when I look to the future I think if it comes back, it comes back, I’m not going to get upset about it, I’ll just deal with it. 

The people at The Haven have been my saviours. They gave me support when I needed it, helped me to understand what’s important and get my life back on track.”


Attachments:
Feb 20, 2015

The Haven Quarterly report February 2015

The Haven: Breast Cancer Support Centres

An update on recent activities, February 2015

        Hats off to the new Haven!

In January, a team of builders, donning pink hard hats, started the renovations for the new Haven centre on England’s South Coast otherwise known as ‘Wessex’. The work to the beautiful 18th century building will take around six months to complete and we look to open this new breast cancer support centre in October 2015.Once open the centre will be able to cater for breast cancer patients located around the cities of Southampton and Portsmouth and beyond.

          Tea party craze raising money for new Wessex Haven

Teams of supporters across the South of England have been raising several thousands of pounds for the new Haven centre by organising tea parties. Dubbed the Million Pound Tea Party, hundreds of people from all walks of life have been getting out their best china, baking cakes and inviting their friends for tea, fundraising for the appeal in the process. We are hoping to raise around £50,000 from this campaign.

         All you want to know about Downton Abbey

Lord Fellowes, the creator of the globally popular period drama, Downton Abbey, will be hosting an exclusive lunch for supporters of the Wessex Haven appeal next month. The lunch and a talk will be themed around the TV series and guests will also have the opportunity to ask questions about Lord Fellowes’ life in film and television. Any money raised from ticket sales and an auction will go towards the new Wessex Haven appeal.

         Testing a new service model

It has just been announced that we will be working in partnership with an NHS (National Health Service) hospital in the city of Worcester to test a new Haven service model. For the first time, we will be offering a satellite service from the premises of a brand new, state of the art breast unit in the grounds of the hospital. All Haven services have been available from our stand alone centres since we established in 2000. Having high quality clinical and holistic care under one roof will be the first of its kind in England and if the model is successful we could be looking at replicating the service at other NHS sites across the country.

          Making a garden into a ‘haven’

 Plans are coming on well for the charity’s garden – Breast Cancer Haven – for the highly popular British institution, the Royal Horticultural Society’s annual Chelsea Flower Show. The designers, Sarah Eberle and Tom Hare, now have a clear vision of the artisan garden will look. It will attempt to catch the essence of a Haven centre where people feel safe, relaxed and inspired. The show will run from 19 – 23 May and The Haven will hope to scoop one of the coveted awards.

         A Visitor’s story, Kalpana

 “If it hadn’t been for The Haven, I couldn’t have retained my fighting spirit or sanity”

I have worked in many roles from hotel receptionist to sales and market research and in 2008 I was working for TFL when I went for my NHS breast screening.  They discovered I had a lump in my left breast which after further investigation was diagnosed as a stage 2, grade 3 tumour.  When discussing my treatment plan with the consultant, we agreed that I would have a lumpectomy and radiotherapy but I felt I couldn’t go down the chemotherapy route as I thought it would be too much to cope with, whilst caring part-time for my unwell and disabled Mum.

I was preparing to get back to work in September 2013 when I was called back for a routine check-up.   It was Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a Breast Care Specialist nurse noticed swelling on my neck.  I had just thought it was excess fat but the nurse was not happy and organised a biopsy for the next day.   After further scans the news was not good, the cancer had returned and now I had metastases in my lung, liver, skull, right shoulder, and left leg and at the base of my spine. 

A support nurse at St. Thomas’ Dimbleby Cancer Care asked me if I had tried The Haven. So I investigated and immediately found The Haven an uplifting environment and the sessions go hand in hand with my medical treatment.  I have found the acupuncture and reflexology sessions have really helped and the meditation workshop was particularly useful.  I like the way The Haven gives you the opportunity to meet other people includingtherapists, staff and visitors.

At the moment I feel in limbo as I have consented to an 18 week trial of chemotherapy, to keep my tumours in my liver under control. I don’t know how long I have left but I don’t feel hopeless about the future, the Herceptin I am taking has shrunk my tumours and given me time to regroup.  I am very grateful for The Haven, it is such a welcoming environment and they have time for you, which they often don’t have at hospitals.  I appreciate the way in which The Haven recognises the benefits of the integrative approach and through their sessions like meditation and yoga, aim to support your body and mind together.

After the shock of cancer returning, it was comforting to come here. It’s a sanctuary for me where I can meet others going through the same thing. If it hadn’t been for The Haven, I don’t think I would have retained my fighting spirit or sanity.


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