HUNDREDS of campaigners and supporters gathered at Maggie’s Centre in Edinburgh last week to celebrate the cancer support charity’s 19th birthday.
“I felt like I needed some help to get through it. Medically and surgically, the hospital staff were tremendous, but you’re very limited in your time to talk to the medical staff, there’s no time,” said Norma Mair, who found comfort at Maggie’s after receiving a devastating breast cancer diagnosis.
The centre, the first to open in Scotland, offers a refuge for people looking for support living with the disease, giving them a breathing space to talk freely about any concerns they may have or just to express emotions they don’t feel comfortable talking to their families about.
“I came to Maggie’s and I joined a support group, which has just been amazing. It gives you the space to interact with other people who have the diagnosis so you don’t have to be super positive and on your best behaviour. You can basically tell everything the way it is. And here you’re doing it with people who have medical expertise and a counselling background. You can be a normal person, instead of just a person with cancer,” she added.
The centre is equipped with relaxation rooms, which hosts classes such as the relaxation drop-in and Tai Chi, and can also offers things like benefits advice and separate support groups for young men and women.
Lisa Stevenson first went to Maggie’s when she was diagnosed with the incurable cancer myeloma in April 2011, and wanted to give something back to the centre.
“Maggie’s has been part of my cancer journey and really has been a lifeline for me. From accepting and understanding my diagnosis, to understanding the challenges the drug treatment would present. It helped me in coming to terms with the fact that my cancer is incurable, that it is terminal, and getting my head in the right place, with such a diagnosis.
“I’ve made new friends, they help me manage my drugs in different ways, helped me manage when I lost my hair more than once. And through all of the different courses and workshops run by Maggie’s, I found that, actually, all these things don’t matter. It’s been there in every element of my life.
“So in 2012 I launched Lisa’s Challenge for Maggie’s as my way to say thank you.
“Since then, through various challenges, we have raised well over £600,000 for the centre. And in January 2015, we launched a specific campaign called Lisa’s Buy a Brick for Maggie’s, which has currently raised over £129,000.
“These funds are directly for the new build and extension of the centre and it’s a great way for everybody to take part. So from just £25, people can buy a brick, upload a message and it will be posted to the website. When the building commences, we’re going to find a way to commemorate all those people who donated to such a phenomenal cause.”