Redbridge haven for families faced with trauma of cancer

When Maddy Ojha found out that her 10-year-old daughter had one of the most aggressive forms of cancer, they were both in desperate need of support.

Over the next three years she watched as her only child, Samantha, endured terrible pain until she died in 1995 from a tumour in her abdomen.

Throughout her daughter’s illness, and for years after her death, Sue’s House in Dawlish Drive, Goodmayes, offered a place for Maddy to go and talk about what she was going through.

Many of the volunteers and therapists at the cancer support group have either been through cancer, or witnessed their loved one struggle with it.

Maddy said: “It became like a second home. We got so much information and other patients talked to my daughter and me and exchanged ideas. When she passed away they carried on supporting me.”


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Crystal therapy

Sue’s House offers complementary therapies administered alongside hospital treatment. These include energy healing sessions, crystal therapy and counselling sessions which are also available to a patient’s family and friends.

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As a single parent, the service at Sue’s House gave Maddy invaluable support, especially as everything is free.

She said: “I gave up my job to care for her. When you’re not working and a single parent, it’s hard.”

After her daughter’s death, Maddy retrained as a crystal therapist so she could help others going though an illness which will affect one in three of us.

She said: “I believed in it before she [Samantha] started chemotherapy. She felt calm and when she was in pain it took her pain off and in general it had a good effect.”

Everyone at Sue’s House, from counsellors and therapists to the tea lady, give their time to Sue’s House for free. The immaculate house has two healing rooms, a counselling room as well as a crystal therapy room.

Maureen Percival, 71, visited the centre after she found out her husband had cancer. She needed someone to talk to about what she was going through.

That was almost 20 years ago and she still visits the centre, along with her husband.

Maureen, of The Lowe, Hainault, said: “Although I came from a big family, they kept away and thought if they talked about it it would upset us more.

“I kept my feelings to myself but the people at Sue’s House brought me out to talk about how I feel. You don’t realise what a relief that is – they knew exactly how I was feeling.”

Sponsored

Sue’s House is named after Sue Quirk a poet and artist who died of cancer. It was set up in 1984 by Sue’s husband Terry and Frank Longcroft.

It relies on donations to pay for the building’s maintenance which costs about �1,500 a month.

The house was previously sponsored by Sainsbury’s but since that funding came to an end, the trustees are concerned about the future of the centre.

Trustee Gerald Reading, 77, said: “It would be very nice if we didn’t have to spend so much of our time thinking about fundraising and could just get on with doing what we do.”

Gerald, of Emerson Road, Ilford, became involved after deciding he wanted to do some voluntary work after retiring from being headmaster.

He said: “People come in feeling very frightened and not knowing what to do. It gives them time, builds their confidence and does make a difference – the more I have seen of Sue’s House the more I believe that’s true.”

To contact Sue’s House, call 020 8597 0024, email Sues-House@Hotmail.co.uk or visit 10 Dawlish Drive, Goodmayes.

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