Yesterday I went into Aberdeen to go to Maggie’s Centre at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary, which is a support centre for patients and families suffering with cancer. I have recently been fund raising pouches for patients starting chemotherapy through the jewellery company I work for, Stella & Dot. Stella & Dot make beautiful pouches and so the idea has been to donate a pouch to a patient which is then filled with items useful to patients, such as ginger tea, mints, socks, ear plugs and a few little cosmetic items as well. I approached Maggie’s about donating the pouches to patients and so yesterday we had a meeting about this and to see if we can keep this a regular giving process to benefit the patients receiving treatment in Aberdeen year round.
This trip was exciting for me as one, I don’t normally get to attend fundraising meetings in my general day to day life and it felt great to have such a purposeful morning ahead of me. Secondly, because I have recently been writing about the Sustainable Development Goals, which for those of you new to this blog, are the goals formulated by the UN to achieve certain targets by 2030 (to reduce things such poverty, gender quality, climate change) and there are 17 of these goals with a total of 169 targets. Goal 3 of the SDGs is Good Health and Well Being and as I walked into Maggie’s I was reminded of this goal and its importance.
I honestly don’t think I have ever been so warmly greeted anywhere in my life. As I walked in warmth, light and calm greeted me. Maggie’s has no reception desk or waiting area, you just walk in and are greeted by a fabulously large and stylish kitchen, with an enormous table and kitchen units, with mugs lining the walls and cakes and other delicious looking treats laid out. The lady who greeted me came right up to me with a smile and warmth and instantly offered me a tea or coffee and made me feel right at home. I was rather overwhelmed by this open offer of acceptance and kindness and reflected upon how even more wonderful a greeting like this must be if, as a patient, you arrive feeling unwell, frightened or lost. This was what turned my mind to Goal 3. As I have investigated the Sustainable Development Goals my thoughts have mainly been with those affected in the developing world, who have so much less than us and who will be the most benefited by the SDGs on the whole. But I realised that many of the SDG targets are not just needed in the developing world, there is need all around us each day and its not just those living with in poverty whose human rights we need to fight for (although I do believe that the weak and vulnerable should be a priority). We all deserve to be equally benefited by issues of human rights and particularly Goal 3: Good Health and Well Being, as it something that affects every single person in the world-we are all touched by ill health in one way or another and we all deserve to receive fantastic treatment and health services wherever we live. Fear comes with ill health, particularly with a disease like cancer, and it doesn’t matter where you come from or how much you earn, fear can be debilitating and its something that affects us all.
After my meeting I was given a tour of the centre and had more of the ethos of Maggie’s explained to me and I just continued to be impressed with how well thought through each element is.
The history of Maggie’s is that Maggie Keswick Jencks, who was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1993, decided with her husband that cancer patients needed the chance to live with their illness in a much more positive way through psychological support and tools to deal with the stress and anxiety of the disease and to be given the opportunity to meet people facing similar problems. And so the Maggie’s Centres were developed from her vision of this kind of care. Every part of Maggie’s is aimed at being the antithesis of a hospital environment, hence why there is no reception or waiting area. There are no closed, unknown doors down little side corridors like you might find in hospitals as Maggie felt this created anxiety about the unknown and leaving patients with questions such as,”what goes on in there?” So the building has specifically been designed in a very open way so as to allow complete transparency and a flow from one room to the other.
Maggie’s also works along side other cancer support systems such as Macmillan in order that the support and treatment out there that is available is as easily accessible as possible.
They offer a number of treatments, such as exercise classes, counselling support and even wig styling classes to give patients the confidence in their new circumstances. They also have Look Good Feel Better work shops which allow women/teenagers the chance to learn how to manage the visible effects of chemotherapy, such as how to apply makeup in a way to deal with eyebrow and eyelash loss, so that they can feel good about their appearances and encourage their self esteem despite the side effects they are suffering.
As I stood in Maggie’s I felt proud to live in a country where a facility such as this one is available to people. There are 22 Maggie’s Centres in the UK and whilst right now it is a service that meets the needs of those living in a developed society, it is a service that proves great health care can be achieved with great love and great vision. Vision has to start somewhere for it to grow and overflow and I think Maggie’s is an amazing bench mark for what the world should be seeking for all people struggling with good health and well being. We should be seeking the very best for everyone and pray and hope that a vision such as Maggie’s will one day be available to all people in all nations.
If you would like to learn more about Maggie’s or find your nearest centre then please visit their website at Maggie’s
Equally if you would like to learn more about the charity Look Good Feel Better then please follow their link here
If you would be interested in hearing more about donating a chemotherapy pouch then please contact me direct at firstname.lastname@example.org and to learn more about SDG Goal 3 then click here