Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Tea at The Haven

Today, I am emerging from behind my desk where I have been toiling at my strange strategy for cutting the word count of the final, final, FINAL draft of Glass Houses by deleting a word and adding ten more, to visit the wonderful Haven in Leeds. 

They are hosting the Big Tea Cosy, 1-4 pm, 10th February,  the opportunity to have a brew – and cakes, certainly cakes – raffle and chat as well as a tour around The Haven, with a chance to learn a little more about what it does. Of course, all proceeds go to keeping this charity going.  If you generally need a little more notice for your day off (what do you mean, you do have a life?) then could you consider hosting your own Big Tea Cosy? There's more information here

For The Haven by the
And I'll be signing copies of Tea & Chemo so please do pop along if you live locally. We’d love to see you.

All profit from Tea & Chemo is divided between three charities of which The Haven is one and I hope the extract below will explain why.

So, I was having physio after breaking my foot running and then I was diagnosed with cancer on December  27th 2013.

I didn’t know if a cancer diagnosis had any bearing on physio but as far as I was concerned, I was waiting for my mastectomy, hadn’t started chemo, wasn’t teaching and wanted to run. I also knew that if I could run during treatment, that it would help get me through. And it did.

So I kept my appointment with Helen, (she's not really called, Helen) my physio.

"Good Christmas?" she asked.

"A bit different," I said.

After years of chatter while Helen had pummelled my sore hamstrings, calf, other calf, bottom and, oh, the pain, my back, she’d never told me about her auntie. Until now. I learnt that her auntie had had breast cancer in her 50’s and The Haven had been her, well, haven. Helen said that it had also been good for her as a relative. She said that I would have to go. I’d get lots of free treatments which would really help in chemo and I’d meet other people in the same situation.

"Right," I said. I didn’t want to be rude but I intended on running my way through treatments and going for cappuccinos with my existing friends in between. I wasn’t sure I’d have time to meet new people – or whether it would be helpful.

"And you’ll have to model in the annual fashion show," she said.

You can probably imagine how I felt about that. Aside from the fact that nothing ever fits me at the lofty height of five foot one and three quarters, walking down the stage with only one boob and a bald head? Thanks for the offer but I think I’ll be at home pairing socks that night.

Back to the task in hand and I was told that I wouldn’t be able to have my usual physio that week but that Helen could gently massage the affected area in my foot, which sounded a fairly pleasant alternative.

The only hint Helen gave that my news had shocked her was when I became aware of her massaging the wrong foot. At first I wondered if this alternative to the usual bending and prodding was a 2 for 1 deal, but when she tapped the wrong foot and said, ‘All done!’ I realised that my fiercely organised physio was flustered.

Flash forward a few weeks and yes, I did visit The Haven. On my first trip I sat for an hour with the manager, Debra Horsman, and cried. I very rarely cried about cancer in the early days. Normally, outside of The Haven, I think I was scared to lift the lid in case I couldn’t get it back on again. I was sent away with a programme of treatments including reflexology, a nutritional consultation and acupuncture. Acupuncture saved me from sleepless nights from chemo and Tamoxifen induced hot sweats – plus I loved our chats.

And guess what? Nine months after diagnosis I was involved in my first ever fashion shoot, wig still firmly in place, for LK Bennett in aid of The Haven. And just over a year later I was part of the Bo Carter modelling group in the annual Haven Fashion Show, without the wig this time. It was the most uplifting experience and I feel privileged to have had the opportunity. I hasten to add that the rigorous selection process for the modelling involved sending an RSVP to say that I was available. 

My physio was right. The Haven is a godsend for people with a cancer diagnosis and their family and friends. But it is RELIANT on fundraising.


  1. What a fantastic charity to help people through the hardest of times. You must be so happy you can give something back.

    1. I really am, Annalisa. It is such a fantastic place that a lot of people feel compelled to give something back when their treatment finishes. There were so many cakes donated by volunteers yesterday, and I met one lady who is single handedly sourcing all the auction and raffle prizes for the annual fashion show in March - a massive undertaking and all voluntary, bless her! Thanks for reading:)

  2. It’s so good to know that Acupuncture saved you from hard sleepless nights. It sounds like an effective therapy. My husband is also trying to deal with insomnia but nothing seems to work. I’ll take him to a local good acupuncture Mississauga clinic. Thanks for this post!!

  3. All the best with that, Rebecca. Thanks for reading :)

  4. I think the same thing about the Haven in Leeds - although it took me a year to pluck up the courage to go. I am a fellow 'blogger' writer from Yorkshire and wondered what you thought of my writing? I am really enjoying reading your book - shame to have missed you for tea & cake. Dee x

    1. Hi Dee, it's hard to get through that door initially, isn't it? But so worth it when you do. Hope to see you for tea and cake another time, I'm sure we'll have another little party, and of course, I'll have a look at your blog right now! Thanks for reading :)


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