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.
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
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.
Just some of the amazing people who make this possible
“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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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!
‘Joining My Cancer My Choices as a volunteer has been such a privilege, and a great opportunity to support the outstanding care and compassion that the charity provides to people diagnosed with cancer.’
Mike became involved in fundraising for My Cancer My Choices in the spring of 2019, and became Fundraising Chair in January 2021. He has seen the fabulous work that the charity provides to people diagnosed with cancer, and wanted to be part of the efforts and drive to enable the delivery of complementary therapies to service users.
Mike has had an extensive career in law enforcement and justice sector reform both in the UK and internationally. He has worked extensively in emergency preparedness, crisis management and security operations.
Mike also has a passion for keeping fit and healthy and is a qualified fitness instructor and indoor cycle instructor.
“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.
“Working for My Cancer My Choices is inspiring on both a professional level, working with a highly experienced and dedicated team, and also on a personal level, having recently lost my father to cancer.”
Melissa is the newest member of the team, having joined at the start of 2020 as Service Delivery Manager. In her life before joining the charity, Melissa worked for the Financial Times on their Arts and Books pages before moving into TV and Film production and working freelance for many years. Along the way she has gained valuable experience working on projects for other companies too, such as The Prince’s Trust, the NHS Foundation Trust, Oxford University Press and Macmillan Education.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“I believe My Cancer My Choices is an inspirational charity and I’m very fortunate to be able to work with it to help expand it to meet the needs of more patients.”
A business leader, HR professional, facilitator and executive coach, Alison brings her expertise to My Cancer My Choices to support the Trust as it grows to benefit increasing numbers of people.
Alison has seen at first-hand how a diagnosis of cancer impacts people, and the feelings of shock, isolation and loss of control many experience. She is also aware of how the provision of complementary therapies supports people in areas that standard medicine does not, and from feedback, the huge benefits.
Alison commented, “It’s wonderful to see how much people are getting from the complementary therapies, whether it’s just a moment of ‘me’ time, some relaxation, removal of some tension or specific aches and a sense of control for a few moments. Over time people return and it helps.”
“It’s an honour to be involved with such a wonderful cause that touches so many lives each year. Like most people, I know many people affected by cancer and so I want to be involved with the fantastic work of My Cancer My Choices, in order to help make difference to other people’s lives.”
Rob has spent the past 40 years in business, both in the corporate world and for the past decade as an Entrepreneur – starting and growing four successful businesses in the UK and overseas.
As a charity worker, he has run an international food ministry feeding and clothing more than 7,000 people a year in the United States and Mexico. Nearer to home, Rob has served as a School Governor on three occasions – for nursery, primary and secondary schools’ provision in Hampshire, working closely with the local authority to help provide a first-class environment for the education and wellbeing of thousands of children.
Combining commercial success with his passion to make a positive difference to people’s lives has been a hallmark of Rob’s life.
“Having benefited directly from the services offered by My Cancer My Choices when I was going through chemo and radiotherapy for cancer some years ago, I know first hand how valuable their support is to people at a time where they can find themselves at their most vulnerable. It made such a difference being able to access complementary therapies alongside my regular treatment – I felt like I had more control in what was happening to me, I felt more relaxed and most importantly (to me), more resilient. If I can play even a small part in helping others connect to this amazing charity, then I will be very happy. It’s a privilege to volunteer here.”.”
Claire joined the charity at the start of 2021, as a patient representative. Her background is in helping shape customer advocacy strategy across her organisation, having worked in technology companies for over 20 years. Having seen first-hand the benefits of the charity for the patients it works with, she remains a passionate supporter and brings a combination of business, creative and marketing skills to the team.
“Looking after other people’s money with care, planning ahead and addressing risk have been at the centre of work life and carry over very well into the role of Treasurer for a charity. I’ve been an active member of Rotary for 30+ years and been involved in Fund Raising, Community Service projects, organising Conferences and picking up all kinds of unexpected skills along the way.”
Tony has spent his entire working life in financial services, starting out with Nationwide Building Society then a Founder Partner with St. James’s Place Wealth Management in 1991. Retiring from SJP in 2004, Tony set up a mortgage broking business with his wife Christine which was intended to be part time and keep him out of mischief. Tony finally retired properly in February 2021.
“Cancer can affect all our lives and I know I would want the help and support of a charity such as My Cancer My Choices to help me. Being involved is an opportunity to show what can be done to support those in need”
An oncologist working at the Berkshire Cancer Centre for over eighteen years, Richard strongly believes in the value in complementary therapy in helping people to get the best possible outcomes from their treatment.
A qualified medic and yoga teacher, there is no reason why conventional and complementary medicine cannot work well together to relieve some of the worries and strains that a diagnosis and treatment can bring.
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