Breast cancer sufferer Margaret tells how CHARIS helped her to get through the ‘storm’

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Charis House in Co Tyrone which overlooks Lough Fea in the foothills of the Sperrins

By Una Murphy

Amidst the sadness of cancer there’s a joy that pervades in a house by a lake in Co Tyrone.

Looking through a window at the sun over the water my first thought was: “My dad would love it here.”

Sadly, after a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer and an inoperable tumour, my father, Thomas Murphy, won’t have the opportunity to visit. He died in November 2017.

On my visit to Charis House, staff led by Imelda McGucken, showed me around; there are treatment rooms for reflexology, aromatherapy and counselling. A labyrinth in the grounds overlooking Lough Fea provides an opportunity to connect with nature and listen to birdsong. People who visit are encouraged to take a reflective walk and free their mind to enjoy the view.

Margaret McAteer

I met Margaret McAteer, 53, a civil servant from Newry at CHARIS Cancer Care. She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012 and her mother died from cancer last year. Margaret has had the devastating news that cancer has returned and is in about 60 per cent of the bones in her body.

Despite suffering from cancer Margaret has joined the Board of Trustees at the cancer charity. At a recent celebration to mark the ninth birthday of the charity, she told guests about her first visit to the centre.

“I decided that I would try reflexology. Have to say, I wasn’t at all sure that some woman rubbing my feet would help the way I felt but I was willing to give it a go! Let me tell you now that I got so much more than that from my sessions with my therapist Noreen.”

Margaret added: “CHARIS helped me get through the storm. They understood.”

Speaking about her own experience of cancer Margaret said: “I would highly recommend anyone who has received the devastating news that they have cancer to visit CHARIS. Thankfully medical treatment is relatively easily accessed but CHARIS is one of the few places that deal with the emotional aspects of cancer as well.”

It costs on average £350,000 each year to run CHARIS Cancer Care. The voluntary charity depends on public donations and does not receive any grant support from government. They have plans to extend Charis House and are seeking £80,000 from corporate sponsors.

On June 15, the charity will hold a Lough Fea Walk and Family Fun day and Lord and Lady of the Lough 2019 will be launched in August.

CHARIS Cancer Care have asked that any organisations or individuals thinking of supporting the charity financially consider using the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland to set up a fund, as they will match fund any donations. Contact Veronica Morris, Director of Fundraising for more information e: web:

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