• “I didn’t imagine when I volunteered that I’d meet some amazing people who make me laugh every time we meet up”

    Lorna, volunteer fundraiser
  • "We understand the challenges of facing intense treatments. It is wonderful to be able to offer an holistic complementary therapies service"

    Liz Riddle Oncology Out Patients Clinic & Macmillan Information Centre Manager
  • “Liz and I started My Cancer My Choices with one aim, to help people with cancer through complementary therapies.”

    Mandy, CEO, co-founder and volunteer therapist
  • “It’s personal, warm, friendly but above all beneficial to the lovely patients who come for treatments amidst their own tough times”

    Anne, volunteer therapist
  • “If you’ve got cancer, you can’t turn the clock back, you have to get on with it.”

    Archie, patient

My Cancer My Choices is a charity that gives people living with cancer the chance to have complementary therapies of their choice in a calm and caring environment.

The charity is run by volunteers and funded by money raised through donations.

A complementary therapy is a holistic treatment, such as acupuncture, massage, reflexology...that complements traditional medicine. It is not a cure or a treatment for cancer.

Evidence shows that complementary therapies can make a difference to the side effects of treatment, and relaxation can have a positive impact on a person’s journey through cancer.

However, it’s not always possible for people with cancer to access complementary therapies. Juggling appointments can be problematic. They may not feel up to it. And not all venues or therapists are able to offer treatments to people with cancer.

Our therapists are all vetted to volunteer in the NHS, have satisfied government DBS checks, approved by Occupational Health and undergone NHS Cancer Patient pathway training.

They are all volunteers, giving their time and expertise for free.

Cancer touches many people’s lives, and each person will have their own experience and ways of coping.

A complementary therapy offers different benefits to different people. For some, it’s a chance to feel they’re doing something for their own wellbeing. For others, it’s much-needed guilt-free ‘me’ time. It can simply be a solution to a problem, or a safe space to forget, to laugh or cry, to talk or be quiet.

It’s your time to experience however you want.

My Cancer My Choices was founded by Mandy Barter and Liz Lee in 2014.

Having had cancer, Mandy wanted to support people right from diagnosis. Liz had a background in nursing and felt equally passionate about providing therapies to benefit cancer patients. Both complementary therapists, it was an easy decision to combine their skills and experience to establish the registered charity, My Cancer My Choices. Contact with Liz Riddle, the Oncology Outpatients Clinic and Macmillian Information Centre Manager made all of this possible.

"We understand the challenges of facing intense treatments, and it is wonderful to now be able to offer an holistic complementary therapies service through My Cancer My Choices that supports the wellbeing of people with cancer in Berkshire."

Two FREE Complementary Treatments, then a donation of your choice, for those with cancer or within 6 months of treatment, in Berkshire.

How it works

We offer 2 free treatments of your choice, after which we invite donations for subsequent treatments.

Our therapists are all volunteers and give their time and expertise for free, as do the lovely people who answer the phone and welcome you when you arrive.

But we still have to pay for things like acupuncture needles, body oils, reflexology cream, mindfulness books and training, as well as the things you don’t see like car parking, phones and even this website.

Donations are vital in enabling us to continue.

100% of your donation works hard to keep this service free to patients wherever possible. We make the most of every volunteer and make sure we avoid unnecessary administration costs.

GET INVOLVED

THERAPIES

NEWS

So far, with your support...

  • 3,000 complementary therapies have been provided

  • 10 courses of mindfulness have happened

  • Over 100 Tai Chi Fit sessions completed

  • 144 complementary therapies are now given each month

  • 400 volunteer hours are donated every month

  • Our team has grown from 9 to 28 therapists

  • We now offer treatments at two sites, and want to expand further to give better access to cancer patients across Berkshire

Just some of the amazing people who make this possible

Karen

VOLUNTEER CHAIR OF FUNDRAISING COMMITTEE

“Being diagnosed with cancer brings many different emotions including fear, anxiety and stress. 

Having personally seen the impact of these emotions on friends and family, by volunteering for My Cancer My Choices, I know I am part of a charity that truly makes a difference to a patient’s emotional and physical wellbeing when undergoing cancer treatment.”

Karen became the Fundraising Chair of My Cancer My Choices in 2016, having witnessed the fear, anxiety and stress that a diagnosis of cancer can bring. She wanted to be part of a charity that improves the emotional and physical wellbeing of those undergoing cancer treatment.

With a corporate background spanning over 30 years, the past 18 at Microsoft, Karen brings with her a wealth of business management and marketing experience.

Not content with juggling a very full-time job and being Mum to an energetic teenage daughter, Karen has spent the past three years training in psychotherapeutic counselling.

Anne

VOLUNTEER ONCOLOGY MASSAGE AND REFLEXOLOGY THERAPIST

“I get more from being a volunteer than I give. I have a sense of being involved in something wonderful.”

A holistic therapist and teacher for more than 16 years, Anne has been volunteering with us since 2016. Like many people, she was concerned that she might not be emotionally resilient enough to cope with what she imagined could be difficult situations.

However, Anne was amazed at the positivity, sensitivity and the feelings of warmth and compassion she’s encountered. She says she feels “blessed and privileged to be involved with My Cancer My Choices, I have never been involved in an organisation where I have felt so valued and supported.”

Al

VOLUNTEER MEETER GREETER

“There is so much in this world that is so very negative and of course a diagnosis of cancer is right up there, to be able to make a difference however small has to be a good thing. To see the changes in people after they have started treatment with us is hugely rewarding; who wouldn’t want to be involved in that?”

Having retired from the police force, Al took a part time job with the NHS as a trainer. Working just two days a week meant Al finally had the time to volunteer for My Cancer My Choices.

He tells us he really enjoys meeting the people who use the service, and that it has “Opened my eyes to the benefits of complementary therapy especially for people who are experiencing a tough time.”

Alex

VOLUNTEER ACUPUNCTURE THERAPIST

“It is an honour and my privilege to provide what help and assistance I can to all the people who come here.”

“My Cancer My Choices offers a space where someone with cancer can be with a person for more than a few minutes to discuss their issues, and where they’ll be seen as a person rather than a patient with cancer.”

From a highly successful career as a software engineer, in which he rose to become Senior Vice President Executive in US software companies, Alex decided the time had come for a fresh challenge and immersed himself in the world of Chinese medicine.

Training at CICM, one of the best Chinese Medicine schools, he turned a career into a vocation, and is doing his best to catch up on three thousand years of medicine.

Alex also runs the Acorn Community Centre in Woodley.

Janet

VOLUNTEER MEETER GREETER

“It has been an absolute pleasure to be part of such a caring, friendly team of volunteers. To see the charity grow and expand, and see the significant benefit the therapies bring to so many people, has been a really uplifting and rewarding experience and has certainly enriched my life.

To be a small cog in helping provide such an invaluable service gives me a real feel good factor and certainly one to recommend!”

Janet is one of the friendly faces you’ll meet when you arrive for your treatment. She volunteers as a meeter greeter and is many people’s first contact with My Cancer My Choices in our Bracknell Healthspace venue.

A retired air hostess, mother of 2 and surprise saxophonist at her son’s wedding, Janet is a real asset to the team, helping visitors to feel at ease, explaining how we work and what happens next, looking after the bookings...the list goes on!

Victoria

OPERATIONS MANAGER

"I joined the charity at the start of 2017 as the Operations Manager and I thoroughly enjoy working alongside such dedicated and caring volunteers. Having lost my mum to cancer in 1999, I saw first-hand whilst caring for her, how beneficial complementary therapies can be in helping people cope with cancer treatment. I am regularly humbled by the courage and positivity of the people who use My Cancer My Choices and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of the inspirational team that delivers such a valued service."

Victoria joined the charity at the start of 2017 as the Operations Manager.  Having worked in entrepreneurial service businesses in management roles since graduating from the University of Sheffield over 20 years ago, she has extensive experience leading teams and delivering projects for both public and private sector clients.

 

Our Board of Trustees

Colin Maclean OBE

Chair

“I am so excited about My Cancer My Choices. NHS primary cancer treatments are excellent, but resources to support the patient through the wider emotional and psychological impact of their illness are limited. This unique offering of complementary therapies delivered by expert therapists, who are also trained in understanding the cancer pathway, fills this gap and enables patients to retain control of their lives and manage their illness more effectively.”

Colin became Chair of My Cancer My Choices trustees in2015. He brings a wealth of experience gained during his long and distinguished career in business, the NHS and healthcare in general.

Starting his career as a veterinary surgeon, Colin joined Unilever where he rose to become the Deputy MD of Glaxo Animal Health Ltd.

Moving into healthcare, Colin became a non-executive director of Berkshire Health Authority, Chair of the Royal Berkshire NHS Trust, a special Trustee of Moorfields Eye Hospital, and a Vice Chair of the Association of NHS Charities.

Mandy Barter

CO-FOUNDER, CEO, TRUSTEE

“I was studying acupuncture when diagnosed with cancer in 2009. It was the shock, fear, isolation and uncertainty which came with the cancer diagnosis that was the most difficult to come to terms with. I had complementary therapy throughout my conventional treatment and it helped me feel I was taking back control of my health. I was making decisions to help myself and that is empowering."

In 2014, Mandy and Liz Lee founded My Cancer My Choices with the goal of supporting people diagnosed with cancer by providing free complementary treatments and information on how to live well with cancer.

Today Mandy enjoys sharing the benefits of complementary therapy with a growing audience, and supporting our volunteer therapists through training and continuing professional development. She is passionate about providing a professional and accessible service that benefits people at a significantly difficult time.

Sue Evans

TRUSTEE

“I’m passionate about My Cancer My Choices and committed to making complementary therapies available to cancer patients, as I found them enormously beneficial both physically and psychologically when I went through conventional cancer treatment.”

Back in February 2014, Sue was about to start volunteering for My Cancer My Choices when she was diagnosed with bowel cancer.

An emergency operation to remove the tumourwas followed with 36 sessions of chemotherapy over six months. During this time, Sue had acupuncture with My Cancer My Choices, which she has found to be enormously helpful both physically and psychologically.

Today Sue is still undergoing treatment, and fully understandsthe rollercoaster effect this has on life and plans. She’s using this first-hand knowledge to help us improve the service we offer.

Ann Sheen OBE

TRUSTEE

“Becoming a trustee of My Cancer My Choices gave me the opportunity to continue with my total commitment to providing the best possible patient care.”

A distinguished career in healthcare has seen Ann, who initially trained as a Nurse, rise up through the NHS to become Chief Executive, leading the Royal Berkshire Hospital to become the first NHS Foundation Trust in the South Central region.

Ann is an Honorary Professor at both Reading University and the University of West London. While her dedication to delivering world-class patient care, and strong track record in building relationships with staff, has delivered incredible change and seen her awarded an OBE for her Services to Healthcare.

Liz Sim

TRUSTEE

“I joined this charity because the two founders were passionate about the belief that complementary therapies were an important addition to conventional cancer treatments, a belief that I also held. Their dedication and enthusiasm were infectious and, judging by feedback from our patients, absolutely spot on in their belief.”

Liz has more than 20 years’experience in the financial services industry and is part of the business planning team for My Cancer My Choices.

A specialist in advising the individual on long term cash flow planning, in 2004 Liz set up her own company, Finance for Life Ltd, regulated by the FCA, advising on all aspects of financial planning.

Liz firmly believes in the benefits of having complementary therapies alongside conventional medical practices.

Ruth Lysons

TRUSTEE

“It is a privilege to volunteer for this local charity, whose whole ethos is to offer compassionate and practical support to people recently diagnosed with cancer.”

Ruth has a wealth of experience and knowledge in the field of healthcare, which she brings to My Cancer My Choices.

Initially qualifying as a veterinary surgeon, Ruth moved into the business world becoming Head of Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratories, before being appointed Deputy Director, Food and Farming Group for the government’s Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra).

Today, in addition to her role as a trustee for My Cancer My Choices, Ruth is a member of the British Veterinary Association’s Veterinary Policy Committee and a Non-Executive Director for the Berkshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust.

Lynn McLeish

Trustee

“My Cancer My Choices provides a service which gives a rare positive experience after diagnosis and during the rigours of treatment – I wanted to make sure more people experience that.

Lynn became involved in the Charity in 2016, becoming a Trustee the following year.

Beginning her career as a nurse, Lynn moved into the independent health sector, gaining many years of strategic, business and management experience in senior roles, which she brings to My Cancer My Choices.

Jane Barrett OBE

Trustee

“After a career treating people with cancer, I was delighted to become trustee for My Cancer My Choices, which provides holistic care for individuals undergoing cancer therapy."

An oncologist with more than 30 years of experience, Jane has been instrumental in creating guidance to improve cancer services.

Her many years of working with the Royal College of Radiologists were recognised in 2010, when the fellows elected her to be the college's first female oncologist to become president.

She was awarded an OBE for services to radiology, and continues working in the UK and abroad to improve the organisation of cancer services.

 

Christine Smith

Treasurer

“I have lost family and friends through cancer and my volunteering for My Cancer My Choices gives me a chance to help make a difference.”

Christine has been a volunteer for charities for more than 40 years, and is currently a Trustee and Treasurer for two local charities, including My Cancer My Choices.

She began her local voluntary work when she moved to Reading in 1975, starting in the Maternity Unit of the Royal Berkshire Hospital.

Away from volunteering, Christine has worked in the Finance Industry both as an employee at a high street bank and as a Director of her family’s financial services company.

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