Today I woke up as usual with a headache, worrying will my roof cave in with the rain, will the windows stay in as the wood around it is rotten, have I got enough money in the bank for the bills and the mortgage? You know your everyday worries.. Then the pain set in my back, legs, arms you name it I was in a lot of pain so the first thing I do is make a coffee and take my tablets. Then I think whoopee!! Today is Sanctuary Day!!
I wait outside the house in anticipation (at least 15 mins early) for whoever is driving me to the cottage in Northiam, today it was Karen. She is one of the band of dedicated volunteers who shepherd people to and from their homes on Sanctuary Days that are held once a month and also to the Natural Rhythm days that are held weekly in Powdermill Wood. There we get to have a whole day doing nothing!! Being pampered, fed and kept warm with log fires!! Ahhh bliss!! Today though I am so tired I am given an Indian head massage by Joan, one of The Sara Lee therapists. Oh I do so wish I could take her home!! Then I went to bed in one of the upstairs bedrooms and slept until 2pm at which time I was woken up for lunch.
After lunch I felt so much better my headache had gone and the pain in my body had died to a dull ache and I had not worried about anything!! What joy!! We ended the day writing a poem together.
I left there feeling rejuvenated. Without the help of The Sara Lee Trust with both Sanctuary Days and Natural Rhythms of which I also attend my life would be a big black cloud, but with their tender loving care I always feel refreshed and new.
A VERY BIG THANK YOU to all the workers, volunteers and of course my fellow patients who make each day worth living because we find we are not alone in our illness and that we can talk and laugh and be totally honest with each other, when in our normal day to day lives we all have this happy face we put on so as not to upset friends, family or colleagues.
Here we can be ourselves. Thank you.
In August 2008 I was diagnosed with terminal lung and liver cancer. After chemo and radiotherapy, Gill Butcher, our Macmillan Nurse at the Conquest, suggested we might like to use the massage facilities at the Sara Lee Centre.
‘Since July, I have enjoyed my hour’s massage with Joan every week. Being in a serene, quiet environment, having a lovely, gentle aromatherapy massage totally relaxes me. Everyone we have met at The Trust is very professional, understanding and friendly. I also know that Annie is having an hour when she doesn’t feel responsible for my well being and can relax with a cup of coffee. I always feel more relaxed when I leave Sara Lee than when I came in!
Watching someone you love so much coping with cancer is a hard thing to do. You need a lot of hands to hold at a time like this and Sara Lee has given us a big hand. Derek has his massages every week and these sessions give us more than we could have hoped for. For me, I have an hour every Wednesday when Derek is in the very safe hands of Joan. I have that hour when I don’t worry about Derek and I can relax. I know he’s enjoying his massage and he’ll feel better for a while.
‘I have an occasional massage too with Linda or Joan and I am so relaxed afterwards that Derek and I usually go to sleep for a couple of hours that afternoon! Everyone I have met or spoken to on the telephone at The Sara Lee Trust is so helpful. Their understanding and sympathetic approach is exactly what we need.
The Sara Lee Centre has a lot of things to offer people in our situation. We think Sara Lee will continue to hold our hands in many ways and help us with this part of our life.
Derek and Annie Barber
I write to say how grateful I am to The Sara Lee Trust for the kindness, help and support I am receiving and indeed have received whilst living with cancer. I have availed of some of the varied support days and have greatly valued the range of therapies provided. It’s lovely having people around you who understand what you are going through and have ‘nice things done to you’, when often treatment is not nice.
I am currently finding the aromatherapy massages provided by Anthea at the Rye, Winchelsea and District Memorial Hospital very beneficial. Anthea is a great asset to the team. Her massages are wonderful, alongside her gentle kindness and consideration, they provide valuable support to enable one to focus positively and calm the nerves at times of worry. For me, the massages also provide mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing so important on a cancer journey.
Living in Beckley, I have found the therapy room in Rye is fabulous! A trip into Hastings takes at least 30 minutes but the journey to Rye is very easy and takes less than half that time.
I felt I had to write as so often letters are sent when things are not right and not sent when they are! I greatly appreciate the Sara Lee Trust and please pass on my thanks to the whole team for all their hard work.
About our Community Therapist ‘I was diagnosed with MND last year, and find the visits from The Sara Lee Trust Community Therapist invaluable. No time limit is placed on the number of visits offered to clients. This in itself is unusual. Most services are given on a 6 session basis. With the Trust, visits are made entirely according to the need of the client. In the case of Motor Neurone Disease, there is no treatment. It is a progressive, aggressive, terminal disease which leaves me constantly tired. Both myself and other sufferers have benefitted from aromatherapy massage, a non-invasive treatment offered in the home, obviating the need for tiring journeys to other centres. Thus I can have a relaxing, calming treatment on my own terms and at times convenient to me.
Often people have never experienced the power of touch and aromatherapy can trigger emotional healing and offer a chance to talk to a sensitive, caring non-family member about very difficult situations. I am indebted to The Sara Lee Trust for offering me this service over the last 18 months. Without it, I am quite sure I would have deteriorated quicker than I have and being able to see a therapist in my home enables me to access a service which would otherwise not be available because of my disability’.
Just to say thanks“… I just want to thank you all so much for providing the therapy sessions. I have recently finished treatment for cancer. It has been a difficult year looking after my young family and juggling with hospital appointments. I have been along to have reflexology; it is just the most fabulous experience. It is such a treat. You are given a chance to relax and feel special for 1 hour. It is surprising the difference that makes to your whole well being. I feel like a big weight is lifted from my shoulders. Thank you so much for helping me regain my strength”.
“Picture a group of ten women (it could be men too but only ladies were present)We vary in age from early thirties to late seventies.We are sitting on comfortable sofas and chairs in front of a roaring log fire.We are talking animatedly in ones and twos or small groups.We are laughing and smiling, sharing recent experiences and chatting about our families.
Looking around the group, I would say that we all look well – we might be a book club – but the one thing that we all have in common is that we are living with cancer. We are all at various stages of living with this disease, we’ve all had surgery and/or chemotherapy (some radiotherapy) and we have all been given a very poor prognosis at some stage in our recent past. Yet we are sitting here laughing, eating chocolate, (the chocolate is very important!) drinking tea, nibbling on dried fruit, nuts and seeds, but – most importantly – we are talking, and someone else is really listening and nodding, and understanding how we feel.
That ‘someone else’ may be a fellow cancer patient or she may be one of the facilitators of the group, but all of us are finding a space in which we can both give and receive. All of this important sharing and supporting is happening thanks to The Sara Lee Trust because this is a Sanctuary Day.
A Sanctuary Day is a unique experience, and what lifelines these days are! For any one of us, the opportunity to escape from the normal days that make up our busy lives, into a space without telephones, traffic, deadlines, the demands of young families or elderly relatives, or the isolation of living alone, is always welcome.
When your ‘normal’ days also include the sheer fatigue of living with a disease that leaves you looking hale and hearty on the outside whilst feeling physically and emotionally ravaged on the inside, the opportunity to escape for a day, is a gift beyond price.
In addition to all that talking (and listening!) there are opportunities to be quiet and reflective, to join in a group activity – a meditation or some gentle exercise – to walk in the beautiful garden, to sit and quietly read, to paint or draw if that is your inclination, and to enjoy a massage or some reflexology or other complementary therapy.
These days have been a very special thing for me, as has been the realisation that not only am I being cared for and supported by all that the Sara Lee Trust is doing but that it has opened up opportunities for me to be caring and supportive of others within the limits of my current levels of energy, and that has given me back a part of my life that seemed to be lost forever.
So a big THANK YOU to all, for the very REAL difference that The Sara Lee Trust is making in my life and the lives of many others.
With love, Jill Stott
As the song goes ‘ Let’s start at the very beginning, that’s a very good place to start…’ Christmas 2006 saw me at the doctor’s with a suspected chest infection, my first after forty-four years of smoking. I was given antibiotics and got through to January as best I could. Up to the doc’s again and I was sent straight away to the Conquest Hospital, where I was given an X-ray, the verdict of which was lung cancer – the whole lung was totally collapsed. The stark reality was to have the whole lung removed. No choice! Absolutely none! Needless to say, I stopped smoking there and then.
The next stage would be Guy’s Hospital in London for ten days. At this point, the fear factor exploded and I couldn’t even have a fag to calm me down!! After a successful operation and three months of chemotherapy plus two blood transfusions I was skeletal and totally depressed. I would sit day after day in a chair, not wanting to wash, eat, or communicate with anyone. According to my wife I turned into a complete monster.
I had been assigned a MacMillan Nurse, who on several occasions on regular visits had spoken about The Sara Lee Trust, the Yurt in the woods and the Sanctuary Days – to which I replied, ‘I’m not going to sit with a lot of ill people!’ However, between her and my wife, I was worn down, and one Thursday I was picked up by Sue, one of the volunteer drivers, and went to my first Sanctuary Day. Well, you have heard of ‘man flu’ – try ‘man cancer’ – it was obvious I was the ‘illest’!!!
But I was brought back to reality by the brave and courageous women that I sat around with that day. My introduction to yet another Macmillan Nurse, Pauline and also to Deborah and Sarah, plus all the women who had, in some form or other, got the same t-shirt as me (not forgetting my wife and my nurse, Carol), made me realise that I had collected quite a harem, and being the only man in all this I quite liked it after all. Also on a Tuesday at the Yurt I was still the only man and I was surrounded by even more ladies and it just got better and better.
However, although our meetings are often laughter-filled, there are also tears and sadness and I have lost some dear friends, but all have been helped so much by the dedicated team at The Sara Lee Trust. It started with me not wanting to accept help – my thoughts were ‘Leave me alone to wallow’. But these meetings have become an essential part of my life and I consider myself very lucky to have been part of them. I feel that the Trust must go on long into the future and will continue to support many people who will all be asking the same question – ‘Why me?’.
I heard a quote along the way – ‘If you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel – get up and switch it on’. I did.
It’s Wednesday morning and I am off to a meeting for Natural Rhythms being held in the Yurt. What’s a Yurt I ask myself – it’s a Mongolian Tent. The only tent I know anything about is when I went camping as a girl guide, sixty odd years ago at High & Over near Seaford.
Fifteen minutes later arriving in the woods and there in front, set amongst the bluebells and the fresh green leaves of Spring, is the Yurt. It looks like the round old fashioned haystacks. We go in through double wooden doors. There’s a log burning stove and it’s lovely and warm inside and lots of rugs on the floor which is solid and plenty of chairs, as I was worried if I had to sit on the floor, because I would never have got up again.
It’s about 25 feet in diameter, there is a window at the top and the sun was shining through, making it look so peaceful and quiet and all you could hear were the birds singing.
We had coffee and chatted and then went for a walk in the woods – what a great morning. I really enjoyed it and look forward to the next visit. I am one of the people who sees a great view , lovely flowers and stores it in my mind for a rainy day or when things aren’t going great. This is one memory that will be stored for future reference.
I came to you in despair
And low and behold you were there.
Your kindness and expertise
Gave me strength to get up off my knees.
The morning sunshine now shines brightly
And those dark days are now behind me
I will forever be grateful for all your help
In my time of need
Cynthia's StoryI cannot express my thanks and gratitude enough for all the help and support my husband and I have received from The Sara Lee Centre. It was certainly my lucky day when we moved to Bexhill and were put in touch with The Sara Lee Trust.
Semra is the lovely lady who is the reflexologist at The Trust has helped to turn my life around. My general health has improved, I have lots more energy, much calmer and very positive about the future.
My husband is also having reflexology and after just one session is feeling calmer and more relaxed. The Sanctuary Days are a joy and we all leave feeling much calmer, ready to continue our fight, feeling we are not alone with our Cancer.
Once again thank you from the bottom of my heart.
‘When Sarah talked to me about Cranio-Sacral Therapy and offered me an appointment, I wasn’t sure what to expect and thought it sounded a bit strange. But after my Cranio-Sacral Therapy with Suzie, I have a real sense of healing, warmth and all calm inside. My husband, when he was alive loved visiting the lakes and we enjoyed seeing the gardens and waterlillies with the butterflies and big skies. When I am having my Cranio-Sacral Therapy I feel like I am floating and being taken away to some where lovely and find I am visualizing those lovely places my husband and I visited. It’s very gentle and I find I feel the benefit when I get home too, not just when I am with Suzie. When I am lying in bed, I can feel the floating sensation again. It has helped me at night as I often got very tense and would clench my fist, but now I am able to lay my hands on my stomach and can feel the relaxation I experienced during the Cranio-Sacral Therapy with Suzie. I would encourage people to give it a go definitely it has helped me so much.
I was diagnosed with stage 4 renal cell cancer in January this year whilst living in Mozambique. My husband and I decided to return to the UK, but I found it quite difficult to come to terms with my diagnosis and kept questioning if a mistake had been made. My GP referred me to the Macmillan services and my Macmillan Nurse Carole Hood was and remains very patient with me, but she recognised that I needed additional support so referred me to the Sara Lee Trust.
I was invited to attend the Natural Rhythms Group at Powdermill Woods. Although I was initially reluctant because I was still questioned my diagnosis and was struggling to come to terms with the side effects of taking Sutent. I found going the group had a very calming influence on me, it is facilitated by lovely ladies who allow you to be yourself and I was meeting people who were either going through or had been through similar experiences and their support and understanding has had an enormous impact on me accepting my diagnosis and allowing me the space to contemplate the outcome of my illness.
One of the major side effects of taking Sutent is the mouth and feet syndrome. My feet became extremely painful and I was referred for reflexology sessions which not only helped my feet but also helped the whole body with the various side effects. Emma, who gave me reflexology, really seemed to understand what I needed and offered me some very helpful advice. Unfortunately I had to stop the reflexology because my feet became very painful and the soles of my feet started to peel. The Aromatherapists at the Sara Lee Trust prepared some aromatherapy oil for me to use on my feet, it was fantastic. I mixed a little of udder cream with the oil and the impact on my feet was incredible, if I used it at night I had a restful nights sleep. I also had a rash on the side of my legs caused by the Sutent and when I applied the aromatherapy oil to the rash, it seemed to disappear for a couple of hours.
I am in the process of a change of Chemo Drugs, and have been experiencing significant pain in my abdomen. I was referred to Joan for a head massage but whilst she was gathering my details she noted that I was very uncomfortable. Rather than just do the head massage she massaged my abdomen with an aromatherapy oil once again I was unsure whether it would have a positive impact, but when I arrived back home I decided to lie down for a few minutes, I woke up three hours later with very little discomfort.
My experience with the Sara Lee Trust has been so positive, the staff recognise how you feel, understand if you are not on top of the world and provide the nurturing that is required to help you cope with this dreadful illness. I am sorry that I have to use their services because then I would not have cancer but it because of their services that I am coping with my experience of cancer. Thank you to every one at the Sara Lee Trust especially Sarah who seems to go out of her way to provide an environment or services that allows us to cope with what it is a very difficult illness…