Cancer survivor hails expansion of respite charity

Cancer survivor Roisin Donnelly from Cookstown has welcomed the expansion of the ‘Charis Integrated Cancer Care’ centre. Located on Cookstown’s Lough Fea Road, the charity provides support to local cancer patients and their families. Photo: Press Eye/Darren Kidd.

A COOKSTOWN cancer survivor has spoken of the vital support she received from Charis, as the charity kick-starts a fundraising drive to double the size of its centre.

Located on the Lough Fea Road in Cookstown, Charis Integrated Cancer Care aim to provide every form of support possible to local cancer patients and their families.


Once the charity’s crucial fundraising efforts are complete, it will be able to offer greater numbers of those impacted by cancer, complimentary support and therapies.

Welcoming the centre’s expansion, service user, Roisin Donnelly from Cookstown described Charis as a ‘sanctuary of calm’, and said that it played a critical role in her journey to recovery.

In 2016 Roisin was ‘shocked’ to learn she had cancer, and her treatment involved an intensive programme of chemotherapy, radiotherapy and surgery.
“But during that time I was introduced to Charis, a truly magical place, by a wonderful nurse at Belfast City Hospital,” Roisin said.

“Her name was Kirsty McMurray, and she previously had cancer. She told me about Charis as she herself had found it such a sanctuary. She said it was a really special place and that I should call them.”


Working in conjunction with clinical treatments for cancer, Charis offers a range of services that are focused on a patient’s well-being.

Additionally the charity provides warm and nurturing treatment rooms, designed for the delivery of complementary therapies by trained practitioners.

Support ranges from counselling services and dietary advice, right through to offering treatments such as reflexology.


“The highly skilled staff recognise what you’re going through,” Roisin said. “They’ve seen it many times before and they simply help.

“In the beginning however, I felt undeserving of the support. At times I almost felt as if I was taking someone else’s place, though that can be part-and-parcel of the emotional roller coaster that comes with living with cancer.”

Cutting-edge design

Roisin added, “Whether that’s providing practical solutions such as dietary advice, or boosting your mental reserves by alleviating stress through massages or reflexology or counselling, it works.

“It makes a difference to people’s lives at a time when they need support. I found the reflexology excellent. I had trouble sleeping and one hour of treatment felt like I had caught up on one week’s sleep.”

The new, state-of-the-art expansion phase for Charis, where patients and families will be treated under one roof, has been designed by Vision Design Architecture. The cutting-edge design reflects two complementary aspects of cancer care – the ‘Science of Treatment’, which will house the treatment room facilities, and the ‘Art of Care’, which features more social and interactive areas.

All of these services are provided free-of-charge.

“Anyone who attends the centre feels instantly at home – it is a truly magical place,” Roisin concluded.

“The people who work here become an extension of your family.

“Peace and gentility are the words I would use to describe Charis and all of the team therein.”

Charis does not receive government funding and relies exclusively on the support from the local community and businesses to raise funds. The annual running costs for the centre are currently in the region of £300,000.

Should you wish to make a donation to Charis please contact Imelda McGucken on 028 8676 9217 or email
All donations go straight to the charity.


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