Belfast Telegraph

Cancer charity approval to expand Cookstown facility

Craigavon couple Angela and Frank McCabe have praised the work of Charis in their fight against cancer.

A Craigavon couple battling cancer are backing the expansion of a local charity who helped them.

Charis Cancer Care support people with cancer in Northern Ireland and are raising funds after plans to expand their services in their Cookstown facility have been approved.

It's hoped greater numbers of those impacted by cancer will be able to access complementary support and therapies.

Craigavon woman Angela McCabe has spoken of how the Charis helped her and her family when she was diagnosed.

“I have a rare form of cancer which is called neuroendocrine cancer (NEC)," she said.

"My symptoms began in February 2017 and were minimal. Following multiple visits to my GP a scan finally revealed abnormalities in one ovary. Surgery occurred in June and that summer a diagnosis and a CT scan showed spreading to the lymph nodes which in my case meant the cancer was inoperable.

“I started chemotherapy in September 2017 in Belfast City Hospital. This involved five intensive rounds of treatment. In between cycles, there is a time when you feel well enough to do something. For me, it was a trip to Charis Cancer Care.

"From the scenic drive, to my quality time at the centre (with a scenic outlook over Lough Fea), I can only describe the experience as something my husband and I really looked forward to. The Charis team are supportive and friendly. As for the setting, it's idyllic and the staff always greet you with a smile. Everyone remembers your name and the services are really beneficial. I availed of counselling, reflexology and massage.”

Angela’s husband Frank commented: “As a family, we feel truly blessed to have found Charis. Recommended by Macmillan Cancer Support, this is a complete haven of calm. When I first arrived here, I did not feel I was deserving of the treatments. However, my attitude has changed. I need to be fit and healthy to care for my wife and our children. We have a son Michael (4) and a daughter Emma (7).

“One of the best pieces of advice we received at Charis was to take time out and enjoy a holiday to Spain and importantly not mention the C word in advance of the chemotherapy. My advice to anyone who is on a similar life journey is to be the best that you can be for your family. Charis holds a special place for me.”

Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in the UK and it's estimated one in two people will be diagnosed at some point in their lives.

The new, state-of-the-art expansion phase for Charis, where patients and families are treated under one roof, has been designed by Vision Design Architecture. The cutting edge design reflects two complementary aspects of cancer care – the ‘Science of Treatment’, which houses the treatment room facilities, and the ‘Art of Care’, which features more social and interactive areas. All of these services are provided free of charge.

Charis works in support of clinical treatments, with support ranging from counselling services and dietary advice, right through to offering treatments such as reflexology and massage.

Imelda McGucken, Director of Charis Cancer Centre explains:

"Charis can broaden the services offered to patients coping with diagnosis, detection and treatment.  The programme has been designed to complement rather than replace orthodox cancer treatments with the aim of providing physical, psychological and emotional support through the relief of symptoms."

Nearly 6,000 people have accessed the services to date with an average of 27 new users welcomed per week.

With the expansion plans it's thought that will double.

Charis Cancer Care Board Trustee Jarlath Conway adds: “The new facility will provide two new treatment rooms for the delivery of complementary therapies by trained practitioners, one counselling room, one beauty therapy room, one rest room and additional office space. We are delighted with the vision for the new centre and the difference it will make for the people who will avail of the services there." 

“Charis does not receive government funding and relies exclusively on the support from the local community and businesses to raise funds.  The annual running costs for the centre are currently in the region of £300,000. I can't thank all our current donors enough. Their generosity makes a massive difference to people's quality of life and well-being.” 

Further information can be found at www.chariscancercare.org.

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