30 years of Penny Brohn Cancer Care

A CANCER charity in Pill has celebrated 30 years of providing help and support to people with the disease.

On Sunday, the Penny Brohn Cancer Care centre opened its doors to visitors to allow them find out about the work carried out there.

Visitors enjoyed cooking demonstrations, art therapy, massage and relaxation sessions during the open day.

Penny Brohn Cancer Care prides itself on providing physical, emotional and spiritual support to people living with the disease.

With the aim of being complementary to any hospital treatment its patients receive, this programme has become widely known as the Bristol Approach and has been developed since the charity was founded in October, 1980.

Now, the charity runs its care centre at a former hospital site in Ham Green with 26 en-suite rooms, therapy rooms, sitting rooms, meeting rooms and extensive gardens to provide residential courses for patients.

In 2009, 1,000 people went on residential courses run by Penny Brohn Cancer Care and the charity received 4,000 helpline calls.

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The charity was founded after Penny Brohn was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She and her friend, Pat Pilkington, recognised that thousands of other people with cancer were also experiencing feelings of fear and uncertainty and so worked with doctors, nurses and therapists to develop the Bristol Approach.

Penny defied her prognosis for 20 years and watched the charity grow before passing away in 1999.

Charity co-founder Pat, aged 81, said: “When we started, something like this had never been done before. It was a completely new idea.

“Extraordinarily it came together and by 1982 we opened our first residential building in Clifton.

“Thirty years have passed and it’s now very widely accepted in cancer care that to look after the whole being is important because if one loses heart the body reflects that.

“People come back again and again and stay for two or three days. We make sure we keep in touch with them and we are currently operating at full capacity.”

As part of its 30th anniversary celebrations, Penny Brohn Cancer Care is encouraging people to support its work by sponsoring paving stones, in their name or in memory of a loved one, for a special pathway in the grounds of the Pill centre.

Only 40 more sponsors are needed to complete the first section of the path, with stones costing between �50 and �500. A fund-raising trek in Peru is also being organised by the charity, to be held in October next year.

* People wishing to sponsor a section of the celebration path can download a form by visiting www.pennybrohn cancercare.org, emailing fundraising@ pennybrohn.org or calling 01275 370073.