Life-changing Sheffield cancer charity on a mission to help people enjoy life after diagnosis
The new head of Cavendish Cancer Care has spoken movingly about what motivated her to get involved with the life-changing Sheffield charity.
Newly-appointed executive director Emma Draper joined the organisation less than a year ago and took the reins at the Broomhill charity last month.
She says it is her own family’s experience of cancer which inspired her to give up a senior leadership role in the executive recruitment sector to work for Cavendish.
And she hopes that her stewardship of the charity can help them spread their simple but powerful message - that life and enjoyment doesn’t end after a cancer diagnosis - to even more people than the 1,800 they reached last year.
She said: “I lost my sister to cancer and she was completely inspirational in the way she approached it.
“She bought a house, got promoted at work and had the most amazing shoe collection.
“She traveled all over the world and did all the things she wanted to do on her bucket list.
“That is the reason why I wanted to get involved in Cavendish. Even though it was a really difficult situation she was able to make the most of it.
“For me coming into this role it is really important that that is what we are all about.”
Cavendish Cancer Care offer a range of therapies including counselling, shiatsu massage and hypnotherapy, all of which are NHS approved as likely to be of benefit to people suffering from cancer.
“What we do is about looking after the well-being of the whole person,” said Emma.
“The doctors look at the medical side of things but we can do something a bit different. It is only funding that stops them from being more widely available.”
“If people have nausea or extreme pain we have therapies that can help and we can also assist people in recovery in going back to work and finding their ‘new normal’.”
However, rather than ‘alternative’ therapies, the services Cavendish offer are meant to assist patients with their cancer treatment by working alongside the medical professionals.
And they say people who can come out of chemotherapy feeling atrocious often leave their Wilkinson Street base feeling ‘rejuvenated’.
But Cavendish doesn’t just support the patient who has been diagnosed with cancer, it supports those around them as well.
“I remember when my sister was unwell I found it difficult to get out of bed to go to work,” says Emma.
“Having the support of an organisation like Cavendish is so valuable when someone is going through that with a loved one.”
As well as services for spouses, siblings and parents, they also have special services for children which include play therapy and counselling with professional child therapists.
All this, however, must be paid for somehow.
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95 per cent of Cavendish’s funding comes from the generosity of local businesses and communities, and if they were to rely solely on statutory funding they wouldn’t get past the end of January.
“The things people do for us are absolutely incredible,” says Emma.
“There is a constant stream of bake sales and dress down days, one lady even did a husky trek all round the north pole!”
People often run races like the Sheffield Half and London Marathon for them and there have also been some really unique events like 24 hour tennis festivals and fashion shows with people finding all sorts of creative ways to turn their passions into something charitable.
Later this year, they are planning a ‘Work a Day’ fundraising event event where people pledge a day’s wages and donate it to Cavendish.
Dubbed ‘the best Friday feeling’ ever, the event will take place on Friday, June 28, with participants sharing their photos over social media using the hashtag #WorkforCav.
And in July, the charity is planning ‘Sunset Stomp’, an evening walk from the Norfolk Arms in Ringinglow to Higger Tor and back, with a shorter 5k walk available for those who would prefer it.
The walk, which will take place on Thursday July 11, costs £9 and has a suggested fundraising target of £54, enough, they say, to pay for two therapy sessions.
For more information about Cavendish or to get involved in Work a Day or Sunset Stomp, visit www.cavcare.org.uk.
Chairman ‘really glad’ with new role
As well as a new executive director, the charity also has a new chairman in the form of David Grey MBE.
As founder and current chair of Sheffield based engineering firm OSL, David’s work brought him in contact with former Cavendish chair Tim Pryor, who sadly died last year.
When Tim died, as a trustee David was given the responsibility of finding a new chairman and eventually decided to take up the role himself.
“I am really glad that I made that decision,” he said.
“It is a charity which in relative terms is quite small but really punches above its weight in what it delivers.”
Like Emma, David has been inspired by seeing the organisation’s work up close, most notably during the illness of his former Cavendish colleague Tim Pryor.
He said: “When you have a serious illness it is not all about despair or thinking it is all over.
“Lots of people come through it and continue to enjoy life but need a bit of help to get there.
“One of the things that Tim told me is that it doesn’t matter what your prognosis or what the future holds, you still want to enjoy life today.
“Tim never gave up all the way through his treatment and lots of people make it through and are surviving.
“Our mission is about how we can support through a very difficult time for them and their families.”