FEATURE: Reaching a milestone in Sheffield cancer care
This year Cavendish Cancer Care in Sheffield will support its 20,000th client - but the links to one of its first are stronger than ever.
Back in 1991, founder David Simons ran a hypnotherapy practise specialising in working with clients affected by cancer and one of the first people he saw was Philippa Cottam, a young mother living in Sheffield; she was one of the main inspirations for launching the charity. Now, twenty five years later, the charity is going from strength to strength. Around 1,500 families access its support services every year and they need new premises to grow. With a planning application recently submitted, the charity hopes to be moving to a larger building on the same road in Broomhall within the next year. It only seems fitting that Philipa’s presence is as important as ever to Cavendish. Her son Laurie, a recently qualified architect, is working on the project to ensure that Cavendish has the best possible facilities. Cavendish Cancer Care’s chairman, Dr June Smailes, said: “Laurie has worked tirelessly with myself and the team to ensure we create a space that the families we support deserve. More people than ever before living with and beyond cancer the demand for Cavendish services has never been greater. “We need to remind people reading this that we are an independent charity and not part of the NHS, as such we need to raise more money now than ever to ensure we can provide vital services for local families living with cancer.
“It is essential for us to use the funds we have to support those affected by cancer today and not divert money we need for essential front-line services to pay for our move. “This year is our 25th anniversary; we will see our 20,000th patient and we will be moving to a new home.
“It’s certainly going to be a year to remember.” David Simons, the charity’s founder, has also relived how he was inspired by Phillipa all those years ago.
He said: “Phillipa Cottam was an inspirational figure. “Had it not been for her, there might not have been a Cavendish Centre here today. Philippa had been diagnosed with breast cancer and, as a healthcare professional herself, was very aware of the seriousness of her diagnosis.
“Our therapy together over the following months helped her to deal with the shock of diagnosis, trauma of surgery, and later of chemotherapy, re-establishing her self-belief and self-confidence in order to get on with her life.”
“Over the course of the next couple of years Phillipa and her husband David lived a full life before cancer struck again when secondary form of the disease was discovered.
“We continued to work together right up to her death some months later.
“So successful was Phillipa in maintaining her vitality that, even at a late stage of her journey with cancer, she was able to fulfil an ambition to go wet suit diving!”
“Her inspiration, together with the lessons I learned in treating this remarkable woman, were largely the stimulus I needed to change my career and set up what became Cavendish Cancer Care.”
Laurie Cottam, now aged 28, was only three when his mother passed away, and has always held Cavendish close to his heart.
“Over the years I’ve done fundraising for Cavendish, as I know how much their service benefitted my parents before my mum passed away”, he said.
Obviously, I don’t have many memories of that time, but over the years I’ve become more aware of the positive impact David Simons made.”
“I’d said if there was anything I could do to help I would, and it just so happened that, having recently moved back to Sheffield, Cavendish were looking to involve an architect to design a new centre.”
Laurie has been working with the charity and its staff to ensure that they create the best possible environment for therapy, whilst ensuring that the building doesn’t become too clinical.
“I think one of the most important things I’ve found out about Cavendish is that it’s not a clinical environment.
“People want to go to a place that’s a safe haven. I’ve been working with Cavendish to offer somewhere that feels like a home and completely removed from a hospital ward.
“I was only young when my mum passed away, but it feels like I am making a difference to the charity that had such an effect on her and my dad. “Growing up, it’s been just me and my dad, so to work with Race Cottam Associates on such a rewarding project really means a lot to me.”
To support Cavendish Cancer Care visit Cavendish Cancer Care Just Giving Page
Each year, Cavendish Cancer Care supports 1,500 local families affected by cancer.
The cause offers essential support to patients, carers and their children on a free of charge basis at any point their cancer journey.
Cavendish needs to fundraise over half a million pounds per year to stay open.
Around 95 per cent of people seen by the charity say that they felt more in control of their situation and experienced an improved quality of life.
During 2016, the charity’s 25th anniversary year, staff and volunteers will help their 20,000th person.