For most people battling to survive in the fight against cancer, worrying about their appearance may be the last thing on their mind.
The journey the disease takes patients on after diagnosis can have many bumps, twists and turns.
And while fighting back against the disease and recovery will always be the primary focus for a patient, a sense of social isolation and a loss of confidence can often creep in along the road.
This can affect a patient’s overall wellbeing and their state of mind.
Staff at Doncaster-based charity, Aurora, believe that helping people living with cancer to feel good through a mixture of beauty and holistic therapies can provide them with a much needed mental and physical boost that can assist them in their fight against the disease.
That is why the Aurora now has five wellbeing centres across the region. They offer holistic and beauty treatments as well as wellbeing programmes which aim to help break negative thinking habits.
Founding member and chief officer, Lynne Rothwell, believes that the combination of treatments and support can be invaluable to many going through ‘an extremely difficult time’.
She says: “Some cancers are hereditary, some are caused by lifestyle and some are down to chance.
“There is a school of thought that says that stress can be a contributing factor.
“What we do know is you can affect your cancer prognosis by how you live after your diagnosis. So if you can do things to help reduce your stress levels, we believe that can help to increase your chance of survival. And that’s why we have the wellbeing centres - to help people feel and look good, and to bring down their stress levels in the process.”
Aurora launched its first centre in Doncaster Royal Infirmary four years ago before opening sites at Mexborough Montagu and Bassetlaw hospitals as well as one in Worksop.
Last May, Aurora opened a new wellbeing centre and café above its shop in Scot Lane. The high end shop stocks designer clothes and those who donate goods are paid 50 per cent of the sale price of the item they have donated. In addition the shop also has a wide selection of more than 1,000 hats for rent and a bridal section featuring gorgeous dresses that are sold for a snip of their original price. People with cancer are given a free package at the Aurora centres that can be used at any point and includes six free beauty treatments, two free hair appointments, wellbeing/mindfullness programme and two free carer treatments.
Many of the people behind Aurora, and who still work for the charity, have battled cancer themselves and so can offer patients support and an insight into their own experiences. Lynne says having a centre away from the hospital offers some well needed distance for some patients.
“Some people who are living with cancer don’t want to go anywhere near the hospital after they’ve finished their treatment, which was the thinking behind having a town centre location,” she adds. “Some prefer to go the hospital, but we wanted to be able to help both.
“We want to be a safe sanctuary where people can talk and have treatments at the same time. A lot of people who are living with cancer want to be strong in front of their families and hold a lot of what they’re going through in. So we want them to know they can come here, have a treatment and talk to people who understand.”
COME VISIT AURORA AND HELP CANCER PATIENTS TOO:
It is not just cancer patients Aurora caters for - members of the public can take advantage of the therapies on offer for a charge, with all money going towards funding the free treatments for those
battling with the disease.
Because the package is offered completely free to thousands of people with a cancer each year - every single penny the charity brings in is desperately needed.
Beauty therapy manager, Shelly Tate, says: “The money you spend on treatments will be spent on people in South Yorkshire. It could be the person walking past you in the street, on a neighbour or possibly even a loved one.
“Our standards are very high, and we offer exactly the same treatments as other salons - but with us you also know the money is going to a good cause at the same time.”
And now, staff at Aurora are on a mission to recruit some skilled volunteers to help spread their reach even further. We have the capacity do so much more now we have the wellbeing centre in Scot Lane, and that’s why we desperately need people to volunteer,” says Lynne.
In particular the charity is looking for beauty therapists, with an NVQ level 2 qualification, as well as holistic therapists with the same qualification or higher.
Volunteers will be working alongside therapists with NVQ level 3 qualifications at all times and must be able to commit to offering at least four hours a fortnight in order to allow appointments to be scheduled.
Aurora will hold a recruitment event in the Frenchgate Centre, on Tuesday between 9.30am and 5.30pm.
Itwill also hold an open day at its Scot Lane site on Monday, January 19, from 1pm.
Anyone wishing to offer their services should contact the charity by calling them on 03000 111 202.