Charis provides a haven of support for cancer sufferers

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“Charis was like an oasis of support in the midst of the desert of illness. It’s like walking into a 5 star spa – not a needle or hospital reminder in sight, just wonderfully caring people in calm and beautiful surroundings.”

These words from a Charis Client demonstrate the haven that local charity Charis provides for cancer patients.

The relaxing envionment at the Charis centre.

The relaxing envionment at the Charis centre.

Charis Integrated Cancer Care was formed in 2008 when its founder member Valerie Beattie brought together 11 Trustees to share their thoughts and perspectives on cancer and how they could contribute to helping cancer clients through their difficult journey.

The Centre is a beautiful house donated by a local businessman and Charis are proud to provide the following services to clients from throughout Northern Ireland: Complimentary Therapy: aromatherapy; massage therapy; reflexology; art therapy.

There is specialist support including: psychotherapy; counselling; nutritional advice; benefits advice; hair/wig consultations; self-help techniques; relaxation; meditation and visualisation.

They also provide home visits to the terminally ill in the Cookstown/ Magherafelt District and bereavement support.

Centre Director Imelda McGucken said: “Our main focus is “client-centred” care. We pride ourselves in sharing with clients and their families our unique set of values and care for them at a time when they are most vulnerable, in a professional, caring and competent manner.”

Each client and their next of kin receives an assessment, a minimum of six one-to-one sessions and can then commence three weeks of relaxation and/or art therapy and/or Eatsmart healthy eating course, all provided free of charge.

The Centre benefits from six fully equipped treatment rooms for body therapies, a counselling room, relaxation room and seminar room with all areas being designed and furnished in a homely, calming way. Currently the therapist team consists of four body therapists, a dietitian and three counsellors with specialisms in cancer and bereavement care.

Finally the Centre is run on a daily basis by Imelda, Centre Director, who assesses and assists the client in devising their individualised care programme. She has 32 years nursing experience, the last 10 of which was working for Marie Curie and has a BSc in Cancer and Palliative Care.

In the words of a recent client; “Cancer was a life changing experience for me. I am a stronger person since the cancer but there are times when I have worn ‘the mask’. ‘The “mask’ that said I’m fine, I’m coping. When I first made contact with Charis by phone I could feel a connection.”

“It wasn’t clear to me though until I walked through the front door that I had found somewhere very special indeed. It is not the beautiful surroundings or the tranquil setting.

“It is not the generously donated building or the immaculate homely interior design. It is not the list of therapies or the counselling or the cookery groups or indeed the relaxation rooms.”

They added: “It is not even the amazingly warm and dedicated staff which makes Charis what it is. Put this list of ingredients together though, and you will find a truly amazing space removed from everyday life where, most importantly, you can remove the ‘mask’ and just be yourself. My wish is that you too find Charis.”

If you are affected by cancer or if you want to know more about CHARIS, please call 028 867 69217, email director@chariscancercare.org or visit our website www.chariscancercare.org.

Alternatively if you would like to become involved in fundraising for the charity – for example the Annual Lough Fea Sponsored Walk on the June 16 – then please contact Valerie Beattie on 07923 411790.