“I’m from a business family. I was a former Marketing Director for Donnelly Group and I’ve also been involved in a number of retail projects. When I was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, it came as a shock.
At the time of my diagnosis I was working at REAL, a new concept store we had opened on the Lisburn Road in Belfast.
Though I’ll never forget when my surgeon advised me that if it were him he would close or sell the shop as the months ahead would be so physically challenging He said stress was the last thing that I would be able for and in fact it would not assist in the battle that was ahead of me. I took the advice on board. It was the right advice! There are times in your life when you find yourself in a situation and you just need the help of others, or to perhaps look at things differently.
My treatment involved chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery. It was an intensive programme. During that time I was introduced to Charis, a truly magical place.
I met a wonderful nurse at Belfast City Hospital , Kirsty McMurray, who also had previously had cancer. She told me about Charis as she herself had found it such a sanctuary for herself and her family during her journey. She said it was a really special place and that I should call them.
Located on Lough Fea, Charis is a sanctuary of calm. For me, it played a critical role in my cancer journey. In the beginning I didn’t know quite what to expect as I wasn’t sure what services were on offer and on occasions, I felt undeserving of the support. At times I almost felt as if I was taking someone else’s place, though that can be ‘part and parcel’ of the emotional roller coaster that comes with living with cancer.
Charis offers a range of services that are essentially focused on your well-being. The highly skilled staff recognise what you’re going through. They’ve seen it many times before and they simply ‘help’.
Whether that’s providing practical solutions such as dietary advice, or boosting your mental reserves by alleviating stress through massages or reflexology or counselling, it works! It makes a difference to people’s lives at a time when they need support. I found the reflexology excellent. I had trouble sleeping and one hour of treatment felt like I had caught up on one week’s sleep.
Peace and gentility are the words I would use to describe Charis and all of the team therein. When you are sick, you need to be nurtured. It’s nice to visit Charis with a family member too as they are going through the same roller coaster with you and I think that’s what really makes Charis unique. The treatments are therapeutic for everyone who attends. It’s very different to a hospital appointment. Anyone who attends the centre feels instantly at home. The people who work here become an extension of your family.
Charis presents an uplifting environment. Hospitals on the other hand are intense. Although you know you need to be there and want to be there for the expert care, it’s also important to find somewhere you can breathe and relax during the recovery process”.
ROISIN DONNELLY, COOKSTOWN