HEALING the mind as well as the body for cancer sufferers, Cancerwise is a support group which aims to help people come to terms with their illness.
The Chichester-based charity helps people in a whole host of ways, with trained counsellors, therapists and social groups, as well as courses to live a healthier lifestyle.
Andy Neve, who volunteers at the centre, tells the Observer about some of the charity’s work.
“When you see people who have first been diagnosed with cancer, it is a hell of a shock to them,” he said.
“People cope with it in so many different ways.
“Some people take it in their stride and say that is how life is.
“The other end of the scale is where people are totally devastated.”
The point of the charity is it supports anyone who is suffering with cancer, whether they’ve just been diagnosed, or are recovering.
“Obviously the NHS is providing the basic treatment of the condition,” said Mr Neve.
“What they do not do is take on the psychological effects.
“That is where we have a real part to play.
“The reality is we are trying to help people understand what it means.
“More and more people are surviving and people look for support in different ways.
“We help people to understand what their issues are and get them to begin to cope with their diagnosis and the treatment.”
Seeing hundreds of people every year, clients can access counselling and different holistic therapies such as reiki and reflexology.
“The therapies we offer are to help reduce the impact of the treatment of the cancer,” said Mr Neve.
Clilents can even join an art group run by the centre, which gives them a distraction from their battle with cancer.
The art group has been run by John Reed for seven years, and although it is just for fun, some clients have managed to sell their work.
“For many people here, it takes their mind off it,” said Mr Neve. “They produce some wonderful work.”
Geoffrey Claridge, 81, Chichester, has been part of the art group for around two years and said: “We have two things in common, we like to draw, and the other thing we don’t talk about.”
Ann Christian, 56, Fishbourne was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2008, and was going through treatment when she first joined the art group.
“John said come and sit down and draw something,” she said.
“I sat and drew a cat. It absorbed me for about two hours and for two hours I did not think about being ill.
“I have never looked back. Now I just help out and come along. There is a certain atmosphere to this place, it’s wonderful.”
As well as the art group, the centre has many social activities and support groups such as the ‘Between Friends’ breast cancer support group, and one group which has dubbed itself ‘The Incurables’.
Another thing offered at the centre is the Living Well course, which helps the clients to live a healthier lifestyle as they go through their journey with cancer.
“So many of them are living a healthier lifestyle, even after their treatment,” said Mr Neve.
“More exercise, taking more care about things they do.
“They’ve been through this life-changing experience and they find themselves living a better lifestyle.”
And it’s not just about those battling with cancer, their family are welcome, too, and many people visit the centre as a couple.
“Take that first step and come and find out a bit more,” said Mr Neve.
Anyone can drop into the centre, on Basin Road, Chichester, to find out a bit more about what Cancerwise can offer them.
“We put together a programme for each individual,” said Mr Neve.
“We offer therapies free, but we invite people to make a donation if they can.”
Cancerwise covers south east Hampshire and West Sussex, costing £100,000 a year to run.
There is no funding for the charity, it survives on fundraising and donations.
Two big fundraising events for the charity are coming up, with a Giant Tombola at the Stansted Park Garden Show this weekend, and the Chichester Rotary Dragon Boat Race which is on Sunday, June 15.
n To find out more about Cancerwise and how you can get involved, visit www.cancerwise.org.uk or drop in to Tavern House, Unit 4 City Business Centre, Basin Road, Chichester.