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Editor's Notes - About the Bristol Cancer Help Centre

A Pioneering Vision

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre is the UK's leading national holistic cancer care charity. It was co-founded in 1980 by Penny Brohn, a woman living with cancer and her great friend Pat Pilkington, and offers support to people living with cancer and those close to them.

The late Penny Brohn was in her early thirties, and married with three small children when her cancer was diagnosed. Penny travelled the world in search of the care she wanted - an immunotherapy clinic in Germany helped to treat the tumour, but she realised that this was not enough. Her great friend Pat Pilkington flew out from Bristol to join her at the clinic, and remembers Penny telling her that she and others in her situation needed not only medical treatment but also "care for the mind, the spirit, the emotions, the heart and the soul."

The two women decided to develop the support system Penny herself had needed so desperately, and to do it all under one roof, and the Bristol Cancer Help Centre was born. The Centre started in the home of Pat and her husband Canon Pilkington, and following growing interest - including a BBCTV documentary series: "The Gentle Way With Cancer", expanded and moved in 1983 to it's current premises opened by HRH The Prince of Wales who is now the charity's active Patron. Penny died in 1999 after living with cancer for twenty years, and her legacy has provided invaluable support and care to many thousands of others. Pat Pilkington was awarded an MBE for her work with the Centre in the 2003 New Years Honours List. Penny and Pat initiated the development of the world-famous Bristol Approach to cancer care.

The Bristol Approach

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre has pioneered and specialises in the world-famous Bristol Approach to cancer care. The charity recognises that faced with a cancer diagnosis, often medical treatment alone is not enough - cancer is the start of not only a medical but also an emotional journey, and many people also benefit from finding support for themselves and their families.

- Supporting People With Cancer

The Bristol Approach combines a unique range of physical, emotional and spiritual support. Developed by doctors, nurses, therapists and people with cancer, the Approach uses a range of complementary therapies and self help techniques to help people change the way they live with cancer, and to deal with the specific problems and challenges a cancer diagnosis brings. The Bristol Approach works hand in hand with conventional medical treatment and is underpinned by the science of Psycho neuro immunology (PNI) a relatively new field of neuro-biology which explores the impact our thoughts and emotions have on our physical health and well-being.

-The Bristol Approach is available to people with cancer and those close to them through residential courses at the Centre run by an experienced multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and complementary therapists.

Former Attendees of the Centre's Residential Courses Comment:-

"I returned home after my residential week at the Bristol Cancer Help Centre, a complete person once more, having been so lovingly given back all of the broken and lost parts of my soul - and shown how to keep them safe. It truly was a life-changing experience."
- Trish Hill

"The Approach to positive health was just what I needed, and the deep experiences of my week there will stay with me for a long time."
- Paul Stalker

- Helping Professionals To Support People With Cancer

- The charity trains over 500 health professionals and complementary therapists a year in how to integrate the Bristol Approach into their work. Professionals and therapists attend a range of education and training courses such as "Nutritional approaches to cancer management", "Massage and self-help skills for healthcare professionals", "Counselling people with cancer" , "Introduction to the Bristol Approach to cancer care" and "Introducing complementary therapies into a healthcare organisation."

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre has also developed a Certificate In Working With People With Cancer to enable experienced complementary therapists to gain a greater understanding about the impact of a diagnosis and develop their skills to better support people with cancer. This qualification - the first of it's kind in the UK was developed as part of the Centre's ongoing commitment to improve good practice in complementary cancer care, and launched with the support of Dr. Ian Gibson MP Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group who presented the first Certificates to be awarded to complementary therapists at a ceremony in July 2003.

Health Professionals Comment:-

" Bristol represents the gold standard in complementary cancer care"
- Professor Karol Sikora, former Director of Cancer Services for the World Health Organisation

"I would emphasise the importance of the Bristol Approach being available to everybody with cancer, and the need for support which voluntary organisations such as Bristol Cancer Help Centre, are so valuable in providing."
- Dr. Victor Barley, consultant clinical oncologist at the Bristol Oncology and Haematology Centre

"As a GP and one of the team working with the Bristol Approach, I understand first hand the importance of offering emotional support and self-help alongside medical treatment for people who are unwell. I see how the Bristol Approach plays such an important part in changing the way people live with cancer. I hope many more health professionals will continue to take the Bristol Approach out into the wider community. Ultimately we will all benefit from more integrated healthcare."
- Dr. Malcolm Price GP, MB, MS,. MRCGP, DCH, DRCOG

Accessing the Bristol Approach

- Through the National Telephone Helpline and Website

- The Bristol Cancer Help Centre's National Telephone Helpline on 0845 123 23 10 and email helpline@bristolcancerhelp.org offers people from throughout the UK affected by cancer access to the charity's unique expertise, giving information and support to all who need it, this is often the first port of call for people affected by cancer wanting to find the support that is right for them.

- People can also find out more about support through the Bristol Approach to living with cancer by logging onto the charity's website at www.bristolcancerhelp.org

- Through Residential Courses

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre is an exemplary leader in holistic cancer care for people with cancer, the Bristol Approach the charity specialises in offers a unique combination of complementary therapies and self help techniques, including practical advice on nutrition, delivered by an experienced multidisciplinary team of doctors, nurses and complementary therapists on residential courses at the Centre.

During the charity's two day Bristol Approach or five day Bristol Retreat residential courses, people with cancer and those close to them, can experience and learn how a range of self-help techniques and complementary therapies can help and support them at all stages following a cancer diagnosis. Self-help techniques taught on the courses - such as practical guidelines on nutrition, meditation, relaxation and visualisation - can be learned and practised in the home. This will enable those with cancer to more easily manage the day to day challenges a cancer diagnosis brings, as also to benefit more fully from medical treatment.

- Through Cancerpoint

In addition, the Bristol Approach can be accessed by people in Avon, Somerset and Wiltshire through an individual booked appointments scheme under the successful pilot Cancerpoint programme. Individual one hour sessions with experienced complementary therapists are available for most therapies with a free one hour initial consultation. Fees are payable on a full, concessionary or donations rate basis.

- Through CanHelpNow

Strategies For Healthier Living For People With And Without Cancer

  • The Centre's new trading company, CanHelpNow Ltd runs a shop and mail order catalogue service selling products to support a holistic lifestyle, relevant not only to people with cancer, but to anyone who wants to develop a healthier happier lifestyle. Whether you need to recharge, or relax you can select gifts for yourself, family and friends ranging from Jane Sen's Healing Foods Cookbooks, to tapes and videos introducing you to relaxation, meditation and visualisation techniques, classical music CDs, and aromatherapy candles and oils.
  • All profits from CanHelpNow are donated to the vital work of the Centre to support people living with cancer.

In Conclusion

The Bristol Cancer Help Centre respects professional expertise and personal experience of cancer equally, and aims to inspire and motivate people living with cancer to nurture themselves, and commit themselves to their own health and wellbeing. Many people find that undertaking courses at the Centre has been a "life changing experience" that has helped them to live more positively with cancer.

Helpline number: 0845 123 23 10

Web site: www.bristolcancerhelp.org

General switchboard: 0117 980 9500

Fax: 0117 923 9184

For more press information please contact Clare Benjamin, PR Manager,
Bristol Cancer Help Centre on 0117 980 9515/ Mobile: 07986 336316
email: cbenjamin@bristolcancerhelp.org

A brief note on phraseology.

  • People attending the Centre are not referred to as patients, but as people living with cancer. Cancer affects one in three people in the UK and many people with cancer dislike being categorised as patients, victims, or sufferers.
  • The therapies used at the Centre are not alternative, but complementary. The Bristol Approach works hand in hand with conventional medical treatment.
  • A holistic approach to cancer care involves support for the whole person - physical, emotional and spiritual - the Bristol Approach encourages people to commit themselves to playing an equal part in their own health and wellbeing.
  • The Bristol Cancer Help Centre is there not only for those living with cancer but also for partners, close friends and family members who often also need help - both to be able to better support the person with cancer, and for themselves.


 "I feel very privileged to have come into contact with the Bristol Cancer Help Centre.  They helped me to care for both my mind and body through diagnosis, treatment and recovery.  My experience has been life changing."

Michele Eve