Patients, staff and fundraisers have come together to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Trinity Holistic Centre.
Based at The James Cook University Hospital, the Trinity Holistic team helps thousands of people affected by cancer and other long-term conditions by providing emotional, practical and wellbeing support.
It was opened in 2003 by fashion designer Stella McCartney after a member of staff recognised the importance of offering holistic care to cancer patients in the region to help them cope with the gruelling effects of their conventional treatment.
Since then, the centre has seen many achievements over the years, including extending its services to anyone suffering from motor neurone disease and other long-term conditions.
It now offers approximately 8,000 treatments and sessions, from complementary therapies, to support with hair loss, to counselling to help people trying to regain some normality following their diagnosis.
The service now also operates out of the Sir Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at the Friarage.
“For people who are receiving treatment for their cancer and long-term conditions, the side effects on their physical and emotional wellbeing can be extremely challenging,” said Lauren Farrow, Macmillan information and support centre’s business manager.
“From day one, it’s been our goal to make sure that families across Teesside, North Yorkshire and County Durham can access emotional, practical and wellbeing support to help them cope through diagnosis, treatment, living with and beyond their diagnosis and for some, support at the end of life.
Looking back over the last two decades, it fills us with so much pride to see how far the centre has come and how it has developed into the much-loved service it is today – thanks to our incredible supporters who have generously fundraised for us.
“Thanks to them, we’re not just a support system for our patients, but also for their families and loved ones.”
To mark the 20th milestone and thank those who have supported the centre over the years, patients, past and present, staff and fundraisers attended a special celebration at the Trinity Holistic Centre.
The event featured a photography exhibition by the local volunteer group Gallery Photogroup showcasing some of the services the centre offers and performances from the men’s choir Infant Hercules and the NHS Staff Choir.
Amongst those reflecting on how far the Trinity Holistic Centre has come over the years was Macmillan specialist nurse Sarah Morter.
Sarah has worked at James Cook for 21 years and remembers a time before the opening of the Trinity Holistic Centre when patients undergoing cancer treatment had limited access to services and therapies that would help them cope with the effects of cancer and its treatment.
“The opening of the centre was wonderful for patients, carers and staff alike. We finally had a welcoming and safe space for patients and their carers in a time of need and uncertainty,” she said.
“I have personally referred so many patients over the years and I can truly say that every one has found the centre and what it can offer so beneficial, whether that be for a treatment or just somewhere to go for a listening ear and a cup of tea.
“To me as a professional, it is an invaluable resource. I have watched it grow over the years to the centre it is today and I am extremely proud to be able to offer its services to my patients.”
The Trinity Holistic Centre costs approximately £300,000 per year and relies on charitable donations to keep it running.
You can donate via the centre’s JustGiving page.
Laura Ashurst, from Stokesley, is a three-time breast cancer survivor, who has dedicated over 15 years to improving the lives of women with secondary breast cancer.
Originally diagnosed with primary breast cancer at the age of 34, when her daughter was three years old and her son was just six months old, she has lived with the disease for 22 years; the last 16 of those with secondary breast cancer.
“It was a big shock to be told I had cancer at the age of 34. I knew nothing about the disease and I naively thought it affected people much older.”
Over the last two decades, Laura has been committed to sharing her experience of living with breast cancer to raise awareness of the disease and support other women living with the it.
She has worked with several charities including Breast Cancer Now, METUPUK, Cancer Research UK as a cancer campaigns ambassador and as an ambassador for the Building Resilience in Breast Cancer Centre.
In January 2020 she became patron of the Trinity Holistic Centre at The James Cook University Hospital, a service which is very close to her heart.
“I’ve been supported by the Trinity Holistic Centre since it first opened 20 years ago,” she said.
“They’ve been here for me every step of the way from providing hypnotherapy, acupuncture to help with the side effects and the fatigue from the ongoing cancer drug treatment as well as other services and support.
“The centre means a great deal to me and to so many people in our region who can access a range of complementary therapies to support them when they are going through their treatment at James Cook or the Friarage.
It’s a very, very special place and it makes a whole world of a difference to the people who access it. What’s special about the centre is its person-centred approach so that it's you as a person who is being treated rather than you as a cancer patient
“It can boost you through your treatment and help to minimise the side effects you are experiencing.
“We are extremely fortunate to be so well supported by the wonderful team in the centre. They do incredible therapeutic work to try to ease some of the challenges that accompany a cancer diagnosis.”
Jodie Connolly, 42, from Acklam, was first diagnosed with breast cancer at Christmas 2022.
After her first session of chemotherapy, Jodie was told about the Trinity Holistic Centre and the services they could offer her.
“Despite having an amazing support network of friends and family around me, no one really understood how I was feeling and how tough things were going to be,” she said.
“I grabbed the chance of being referred to the Trinity Holistic Centre and it was honestly the best decision.
“This centre has been an absolute godsend to me in terms of my wellbeing, mental health and overall care and support.
“I experienced some absolutely amazing massages which were both beneficial to my aches and pains but to also give me some ‘me time’ and made me forget the horrid situation I was in.
“I received acupuncture which was extremely effective and it also gave me chance to bond with other patients who were on the same journey.
“I’ve met some incredible people, both staff and patients, and look forward to every visit to the centre.
“It has become home from home for me and is definitely my go to safe space.”
Since her diagnosis, Jodie’s friends and family have dedicated their time to fundraising for the Trinity Holistic centre as a thank you for the support it has provided Jodie over the last 10 months.
If like them, you would like to donate to the centre, to allow it to help many more patients like Jodie, you can do so via the JustGiving.