South Yorkshire cancer charity celebrates 25 years of care and support

More walkers ready to go
More walkers ready to go

Every hour in South Yorkshire, somebody is told they have cancer. It’s a shocking statistic, and sadly the figures are only set to rise over the next five years.

As South Yorkshire charity Cavendish Cancer Care reaches its 25th anniversary, it is highlighting the help and support available for individuals and loved ones who find themselves facing a devastating diagnosis.

Holly Hodgkinson, a midwife from Sheffield, who was supported by Cavendish Cancer Care after she lost her Nan

Holly Hodgkinson, a midwife from Sheffield, who was supported by Cavendish Cancer Care after she lost her Nan

Since 1991 Cavendish, which is based in Sheffield, has supported thousands of families across the region.

It works in partnership with the NHS to help patients and their families from South Yorkshire, North Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire to cope both physically and emotionally with a diagnosis, the treatment and their future.

The independent charity is based in Wilkinson Street, Broomhall, and was founded by David Simons, a dentist who had been successfully using hypnosis to help patients who were anxious, stressed or in pain.

Increasingly, doctors began to refer patients to him who were struggling to come to terms with the cancer that had changed their lives.

Talking therapies are provided by Cavendish Cancer Care

Talking therapies are provided by Cavendish Cancer Care

This led to the birth of Cavendish Cancer Care, and David is still heavily involved in the charity as its life president.

David said that back in the 1990s, complementary therapies were seen as ‘eccentric’ and ‘unorthodox’.

But a quarter of a century later, they have become integrated as a key element in helping patients through their cancer journey.

Looking back on how his vision became a reality, David said: “When I started the charity, together with three colleagues, all involved in some aspect of cancer care, we could not foresee how much it would grow.

Talking therapies are provided by Cavendish Cancer Care

Talking therapies are provided by Cavendish Cancer Care

“Now, Cavendish Cancer Care sees 1,500 families every year.

“Each year, around 9,000 people in South Yorkshire alone receive a cancer diagnosis. That’s an enormous figure. We are fortunate that due to advances in medical research and healthcare, an increasing number of those people are surviving. “This is fantastic news but also means that we are needed more than ever. In our region there are currently around 35,000 people living with and beyond cancer, and we know that this has many implications.

“When a person hears the words: ‘You have cancer,’ their whole world is shaken. It’s like dropping a pebble into a pool – each ripple can spread to involve more and more people, from partners to parents, children, friends, carers and work colleagues. Often patients are so conscious of the pressures they are placing on others, it only adds to their own worries.”

David said that when Cavendish Cancer Care was established, four main principles were crucial to the organisation. These were that patients and carers had to be at the heart of the organisation; the charity would not charge for treatment; it insisted on total professionalism; and it would aim to work in partnership with mainstream health services. Over the years this original philosophy has never wavered – I’m very proud of that.”

Cavendish Cancer Care is based on Wilkinson Street, Sheffield

Cavendish Cancer Care is based on Wilkinson Street, Sheffield

In Sheffield, the waiting time for access to talking therapies through the NHS is double the national average at around 60 days. Cavendish offers a first appointment within five working days.

“This short waiting time is vital,” David said.

“It protects patients’ emotional well-being from deteriorating further.

“Cavendish can help to alleviate the strain on NHS resources by reducing prescribed drug usage, GP visits and dependency upon specialist doctors and nurses.”

The cost of financing the charity is approximately £600,000 per year. Much of this is raised by local people, organisations and businesses through a variety of fundraising activities, including Cavendish’s annual fun run, Sheffield Together, which this year was held in November and raised more than £5,000.

“We are incredibly grateful to all our local friends and businesses who raise money for us in so many different ways, and whose generosity is quite overwhelming”, said David.

“However, the need for our service increases every day. This is why we are asking people to support us in 2016 and beyond so that the charity can continue to help generations to come.

“I cannot overstate how proud I am of our success and of the amazing calibre of every person, past and present, in our team.”

* Anyone who has been affected by the impact of cancer can access Cavendish’s free of charge support packages by calling 0114 2784600. They will see you within five working days.

Case study:Holly Hodgkinson

Holly was a carer for her nan, who died of cancer in August 2014.

She said: “I feel every woman deserves a midwife who will go that extra mile and give their all to the job. But soon my grief became so overwhelming that I began to recognise that I was unable to give that extra support.

“Grief hit me in really acute attacks. I had an attack at work on a night shift which I managed to get through safely. It was then I realised that I could hardly look after myself, so I couldn’t give any more to the women in my care.

“My manager was great and gave me some time off work to get help, supporting me throughout.

“I heard about Cavendish through a friend that I’d confided in about what I was going through.

“I had a look on the website and called the number. They were so friendly and professional, and from that first conversation I instantly felt at ease.

“I came down to the centre and initially spoke to Paula, an assessor. She allowed me to talk without holding anything back or worrying about what I said.

“Through my assessment, we decided that hypnotherapy and relaxation would be the most suitable therapy for me. I felt guilty and negative about the emotions and moods I was experiencing.

“My day-to-day life and mind-set was very hectic and disorganised. I couldn’t see forward, or make any plans. Through using hypnotherapy, I was taught how to take time out for myself, relax and unwind, and settle my mind.

“My experience at Cavendish has been above and beyond anything I could have expected. I’ve learned so many relaxation techniques that will see me through my life, not just for grief but for every situation I’m going to face.

“Some days I am still sad, but I can recognise that and take some time for me.

“With the support that Cavendish have given me, I now feel like I can give out some more support myself.

“I love waking up every morning with a smile again.”