Hearing the words ‘cancer’ is a brutal blow, leaving many people with fear.
But one group is helping patients ‘learn to love their cancer’ and help their immune systems deal with it.
Gentle Approach to Cancer is a support group with a difference. Its philosophy is to find ways of self healing and to let go of the fear.
The group meets on the second Saturday of the month and offers a variety of complementary therapies, including meditation, visualisation, reflexology, reiki, head massages and gentle exercise. There is also information on diet, plus singing and Thai Chi.
Founder of the Preston group, Dorothy Hindley, says: “We want to teach people to love their cancer and say you can live with it, as it is about helping the immune system deal with it.
“We want people to embrace it and not be afraid of it.
We want to teach people to love their cancer and say you can live with it, as it is about helping the immune system deal with it. We want people to embrace it and not be afraid of it.Dorothy Hindley
“It is a self help group and we try to inspire people to find things that will help them.
“For example, one woman was diagnosed with aggressive ovarian cancer almost 30 years ago.
“She visualised herself at her daughter’s birthday and more and more candles were appearing on the cake as she got older. Her thoughts were progressing into the future.
“She was also on a vegan diet to boost her immune system.
“When she told her doctor that she would be doing these things to help herself, he said she was wrong – but she was able to tell him years later, he was wrong.
“This may not work for everyone. We have had people pass away and others still going strong.
“We are not an alternative centre.
“We are complementary to orthodox medicine.
“We have around 20 volunteers who offer complementary therapies and we are fortunate to have a doctor, Dr Liz Newson, who is our chairman. Everyone is professionally trained and insured.
“We have had growing interest from the medical profession, as we have had nurses from The Christie come to see what we are doing and they have taken away some of the information and practice.”
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The group was started in Morecambe by Bea Vernon in 1983 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. She set about helping herself by reading up on nutrition and detoxifying.
Dorothy adds: “Bea went on a diet of grapes for six weeks and felt really well. She met a doctor who put her on a vegan diet and she did meditations, visualisations and relaxation.
“After three months she found although the cancer never went away, it had stopped growing. She decided there was something you could do with cancer and she set the group up.
“I had trained to be a nurse but left the career when I had my children. I had post natal depression and meditation really helped me, so I decided to purse that further. I got a diploma in counselling and reflexology.
“At the same time, my sister-in-law had pancreatic cancer and there was no help for her. I started looking at what help there was and I went to a talk in Lancaster. I met Bea Vernon and she asked me to join her group. A few years later I set up the Preston group, in 1989.”
Joan Moran came to the centre as a patient 23 years ago and has been a volunteer and helper for several years.
She says: “I had breast cancer and had a double mastectomy and I was given information about Gentle Approach to Cancer. I had just finished chemotherapy and felt so low. It helped me to build my strength and I have stayed ever since.”
Gentle Approach to Cancer is a non-funded organisation and although there is no charge for its services, the charity does ask for a small donation to help with paying the building fee. All therapists donate their time for free.
The group meets every second Saturday of the month from 10am until 3pm at Ribblebank Resource Centre, Gerard Street, Preston.
To book in call Joan on 01772 865024 or visit www.gentleapproach.org.uk.