06/11/2023 | Press releases

Help us support people living with and beyond cancer

Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity has launched a brand new appeal to raise vital funds towards the “invaluable” work which takes place every day to support people living with and beyond cancer.

The Cancer Wellbeing Fund will help make sure that East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust’s (ESNEFT) Cancer Wellbeing and Information Centres can continue to offer a full range of personalised services to patients and their families. These include:

  • Specialist information and advice
  • Counselling services
  • Psychological support
  • Complementary therapies
  • Family therapy
  • Physical activity services
  • Hair, skincare and dietary advice
  • Practical support
  • Benefits advice and signposting

The centres at Colchester and Ipswich hospitals also host support groups as well as offering refreshments and a space for people to sit, talk or listen, regardless of what stage they are at on their cancer journey.

Mandy Jordan, associate director of charities and voluntary services with ESNEFT, said: “Our friendly and welcoming Cancer Wellbeing and Information Centres offer a tranquil and relaxing environment where people can enjoy invaluable space and support. They provide a huge range of services – but rely on the kindness of our supporters to be able to carry on their amazing work.

“This appeal aims to help us raise all-important funds so that even more people who are living with cancer can get the help, support and advice they need at the time they need it the most.”

Curtis Rimmington, 31, has used the centre at Colchester Hospital ever since he was diagnosed with a brain tumour and epilepsy in 2018. He has since received counselling and enjoyed Reiki, reflexology and massage sessions.

“The centre has made a really big difference to me,” said Curtis (pictured above), who lives in Colchester with partner Laura, four-year-old son Arthur and rescue dog Skye. “I see it as a safe space where you can take your mind off everything. It’s peaceful and relaxing and the staff are all really lovely.

“I would definitely encourage people to support the appeal if they are able to as the centre really is an important resource for people when they need a bit of help or support.”

For more information about the Cancer Wellbeing Fund or to become a friend and set up a regular donation, visit www.colchesteripswichcharity.org.uk

To find out more about the services provided by the centres, call 01206 745347 for Colchester or 01473 715748 for Ipswich.


Ipswich case study – “They picked the pieces up when my world was imploding”

A devoted daughter who supported both parents through cancer treatment before receiving a diagnosis herself has lent her support to the Cancer Wellbeing Fund to thank hospital staff for their “all-encompassing support and kindness.”

Claire Beeson (pictured) said the team at Ipswich Hospital’s Cancer Wellbeing and Information Centre offered her safe place at a time where she felt “her world was imploding”.

The 56-year-old is now sharing her story to help raise funds to support the centre’s vital work.

“Both mum and dad were diagnosed with cancer in the same month in 2017,” said Claire, who lives in Ipswich with husband Warren. “They went through treatment and were given the all clear, only to be re-diagnosed two years’ later.

“That is the point at which I started to really wobble – but the team at the cancer centre were there for us all and gave me a tremendous amount of support. I was so blown away by their kindness.”

As well as arranging complementary therapies for her mum, the team were always on hand to provide a cup of tea and listening ear for Claire, together with counselling.

“I was devastated to lose my mum at the end of 2020 and everything just took its toll on me, both mentally and physically. Eight months later my dad’s cancer sadly returned for a third time and I was also diagnosed with breast cancer. I had major surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, all while trying to support the family and dad on his own cancer journey before we sadly said goodbye to him in late 2022.

“It was an incredibly traumatic time, but the staff at the centre were just amazing. It’s hard to describe what they gave me – they more than just looked after me. I cried many tears in there, but they listened, guided and supported me during both grief and treatment, and were often able to offer solutions or point in the right direction when things got tough. They picked the pieces up at a time when my world was imploding.”

Claire received a variety of support through the centre, including access to exercise classes after treatment, online courses, Reiki, counselling and scar tissue therapy, which she said made a “life-changing” difference to how she both looked and felt. It was often the little things the team did which helped the most.

“The team understand what people are going though and think of everything, from offering covers for PICC lines to letting you borrow wigs to try on in comfort at home,” added Claire, who finished her treatment in 2022. “It’s difficult to put into words unless you’ve been through it, but this friendly support makes such a difference – especially when you’re feeling so lonely and vulnerable.

“It has been a challenging journey which has completely changed me as a person, but having someone there who understands has really helped. I know if I needed to pick up the phone or pop in, the staff would either help, advise or point me in the right direction.

“But the support the centre offers needs to be funded, which is why this appeal is so important. They have such an enormous positive impact on both patients and their families and would really benefit from more people supporting them.”


Colchester case study – “The centre is my sanctuary and safe haven”

When Jan was diagnosed with a rare form of blood cancer in August 2022, she didn’t know where to turn.

Despite receiving fantastic support from husband John, she felt she needed other people to talk to – and found exactly what she was looking for at the Cancer Wellbeing and Information Centre at Colchester Hospital.

The 72-year-old now regularly drops in for a cuppa and chat, and has also benefitted from reflexology, meditation, Reiki and yoga sessions. She describes the support she has received from staff as “invaluable” and has quickly become a passionate advocate for the services they provide.

“I was in a terrible state when I was first diagnosed,” said Jan (pictured above), who lives in Colchester and has been married to John for 52 years. “My husband got me through that first week, but I still felt isolated as I don’t have many friends or family locally who I could talk to.

“When I found out about the centre I went straight there. The lovely ladies were a listening ear and offered me somewhere to go and chill out if I felt anxious before an appointment. It has since become my go-to place – I look at it as my sanctuary and safe haven.”

Jan has a type of cancer called polycythemia vera, which makes her more suspectable to blood clots, strokes and heart attacks. Although it is incurable, it can be treated, with Jan currently receiving medication and taking regular blood tests.

She added: “I do get tired but try to have a positive attitude. We still enjoy regular holidays and I walk my dogs, redecorate at home and do the gardening. I feel I need to try and get on with my life.

“The centre has been an important part of that and has made a really big difference to me. Everyone is so friendly and there’s such a welcoming atmosphere – it’s a good community and I find it relaxing to talk to so many different people.

“The complementary therapies I’ve had have also left me feeling much better and so refreshed. It’s like I’m floating on air and am so grateful to have had the opportunity to try them.

“The centre has helped me both mentally and physically – mentally through knowing that people care and are listening, and physically through the treatments and exercise I’ve been offered. Both help to bring some respite when you are dealing with powerful emotions.”

To say thank you for the support she has received, Jan is now backing Colchester & Ipswich Hospitals Charity’s appeal to raise funds for the centre. Every penny will be used to continue providing vital services in years to come.

“This appeal is so important as most people know someone who has been impacted by cancer,” she added. “The centre offers the chance to talk and is a sanctuary for people who might feel that all is lost. The staff really understand how you are feeling and make you feel incredibly welcome, which in itself is a huge comfort at a difficult time.”

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