While October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the work of one county charity goes on throughout the year to support those fighting the disease.
Crazy Hats has been raising money to improve care for breast cancer patients at both Kettering and Northampton hospitals for 10 years.
Events such as the annual sponsored walk at Wicksteed Park help raise thousands of pounds, but there are other ways the charity is reaching out to those affected by the illness.
One of these is the weekly coffee and chat sessions held every Thursday at the charity’s base in Sanders Road on the Finedon Road industrial estate in Wellingborough.
It has proved so popular that its hours have just been extended from 10am until 1pm each week.
As well as providing the chance to speak to other patients, those attending can have free complementary therapy with Elaine Henson.
Karol Hall of Rushden is a regular member of the group.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer a year ago last May and said: “I went to Elaine for therapy after my chemotherapy because my daughter bought me a package of massages.
“It took me about six weeks to get in the right frame of mind to go and Elaine mentioned Crazy Hats because she’s involved with it and I came along.”
She found several people there were going through treatment just like she was and she could ask questions about what to expect.
Their support was invaluable, and she added: “You come here a bit down and a bit depressed, the world is collapsing around you, and you then leave thinking you can do this.”
Jackie Randall, 70, of Finedon, has been going to the drop-in session for just three weeks but already thinks it’s wonderful.
She was diagnosed with breast cancer after going for what would have been her last mammogram.
She said: “I have got a lovely circle of family and lovely friends, but it’s not the same as coming here where we are in the same situation.
“Last week I had a bad week and they were so wonderful here.”
Carol Law, 51, of Burton Latimer, has been going to the coffee and chat group for about 18 months.
She said: “It is great support.”
She was diagnosed with breast cancer just before her 50th birthday. and it was only because she went for her first mammogram that they found it. She had not noticed any symptoms.
She said: “I was called for my first mammogram just before I was 50 and they found it straight away.
“It says on the letter this might be nothing, but they said straight away we think you have got a tumour.
“I wouldn’t have known because it was so deep.
“The mammogram saved my life. Make sure you do have the test.”
Glennis Hooper, who founded Crazy Hats after being diagnosed with breast cancer, said: “Each week we get more and more through the doors and from our point of view it is so rewarding to feel they leave us with a little more confidence, assurance and knowing they are not on their own – and that they have others to talk to.”
But Miss Hooper added: “With the higher volume of people needing us and coming through our doors on a regular basis we are in urgent need of better and bigger facilities to provide and continue this service – if anyone or any companies know of such venues in and around the Wellingborough area please get in touch.”
Crazy Hats pin badges will be sold at various locations around the county during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Elaine complements Crazy hats
Elaine Henson is a complementary therapist for Crazy Hats who offers reflexology, Indian head massage, Reiki, facials, manicures and pedicures.
These are available for free every Thursday from 10am to 1pm to breast cancer patients. Those attending the coffee and chat group can make an appointment or just turn up.
Elaine said: “My journey first began with Crazy Hats when I became a member in 2009.
“I felt very passionate about finding a charity that would benefit from complementary therapies and lucky for me that charity was Crazy Hats. I felt it was important to support a local charity.
“After approaching Glennis in 2011, I attended the newly formed coffee and chat mornings once a month on a voluntary basis, giving ladies taster treatments in reflexology, Indian head massage and manicures.
“Since January 2013 Crazy Hats Complementary Therapies (CHCT) was launched and I was very privileged to be asked to set up this service and run it every Thursday at the coffee and chat mornings.
“Although I personally have not had breast cancer, I have learnt so much from ladies who have been diagnosed.
“Their journeys are all incredible and I am so pleased to give them quality time for themselves while going through their vigorous hospital treatments.”
Avon gave £10,000 towards the service at this year’s sponsored walk, allowing the charity to set up and run the complementary therapy service in a room opposite the Crazy Hats office.