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Meditation classes at Macmillan Centre help in the emotional fight against cancer

09 March 2016

Health Care

The Macmillan Cancer Support and Information Centre based at Southend Hospital runs a wide range of classes and events designed to support people affected by cancer.

The meditation and relaxation classes have proved so popular that it's been a case of 'standing room only' at recent sessions and the centre is seeking a second volunteer to host a class to meet demand.

The classes, which started with only eight attending but have now ballooned to nearly 30 attending, have been running in the centre for the past year and help teach coping skills for stressful situations.

The Macmillan Centre manager is Fred Englund, she said: "This class has really helped put the centre on the map and has really helped people along on their journey."

She added: "When a cancer diagnosis is given, the emotional and physical effects are often very significant, leaving patients, their families, carers and friends anxious and worried. Treatment can be lengthy and exhausting; scans and follow-up appointments can be stressful and dealing with everyday decisions can seem overwhelming. The classes can be beneficial to helping overcome these feelings."

Classes can also benefit someone who is finding it difficult to talk about their experience of cancer, especially what is worrying them or the strong emotions they are experiencing.

Weekly classes are run on a drop-in basis at the centre which is based at Southend Hospital's main Prittlewell Chase site, with no need to book.

Michael French, who runs the class on a voluntary basis, explained: "People are often sceptical about the benefits of mediation and relaxation. But once they overcome their initial hesitation, the benefits are clear and meditation and relaxation can be a powerful tool for individuals.

I've also really gained out of it as it's been very rewarding to give something back and help other people who are going through a bad time."

Two of those who have benefited from the class are Gill Lang, 56, from Westcliff and Susan Sealey, 63, from Canvey.

Gill said: "I had tried a self-help CD at home but it's nothing like coming here for a class by an expert. The guided meditation promotes deep relaxation and I feel it really does benefit the mind, body and soul. You really do feel the calmness and I think it is something much overlooked in the Western world."

Susan added "It's like a little community here and you get lots of different people at the class from those that have beaten cancer, those currently having treatment to carers. The Macmillan Centre is absolutely lovely and lots of us have been through so much, there's a huge amount of benefit to these classes for those that have beaten cancer as although we may feel physically better it doesn't mean we have heeled emotionally and this class helps deliver that."

Friederike concluded: "It's been great to be able to run these classes and see how they've helped our centre users. Dealing with cancer is a very stressful time and anything which helps develop coping techniques can make a huge difference to someone's life. Our classes have been so well attended, that we're running out of space to accommodate everyone."

If you, or someone you know is dealing with a cancer diagnosis and you'd like to know more about the support services provided, get in touch. Or, if you are interested in volunteering to take a second class please contact Fred Englund on 01702 385101, email Macmillan.centre@southend.nhs.uk  or visit the centre's Facebook page here: www.facebook.com/SouthendNHScancersupport.