Ladies and Gentlemen, I just wanted to say what a joy it is to see you all here this afternoon. To my amazement I find that I’ve been Patron of The Haven for 10 years. All I can say is those 10 years have gone by very, very quickly but as far as the Haven’s concerned, whose tenth birthday we’re celebrating today, those 10 years have marked an enormous success I think in terms of the kind of approach that they’ve adopted that has made such a difference to so many people’s lives and I’ve seen that at first hand myself when visiting some of the Havens.
But today also provides an opportunity just to stress, once more, how much is owed to Sara Davenport whose enthusiasm and determination never to take “No” for an answer and to try and claim that I said I’d do this for life, is one of her more affable features! We’re very lucky to have her along with so many that work in the different Havens. All those volunteers for instance without whom so little will happen at the end of the day. It’s been wonderful to meet some of you here this afternoon. I’m particularly grateful to The Haven’s celebrity supporters like Kimberley Walsh, Sophie Raworth and Gaby Roslin. Sophie manages to do so many different things. How she manages it, I don’t know. She has also been an Ambassador for my Prince’s Trust for 10 years. I’m so lucky that people like her are prepared to give up their time. I’m also grateful to all those who have come from the United States especially to join us today to provide all that extra help and generosity, which as you know, makes such a huge difference.
Obviously Ladies and Gentlemen there’s an awful lot that needs doing and for the next 10 years the Haven has many substantial ambitions. One is to work towards solving the situation in Leeds. I went to visit the Haven there two years ago and they are doing a remarkable job. Over the years, through these centres, something like 7000 people have been helped to cope with the emotional and psychological impact of diagnoses. Over 94,000 appointments have been provided as part of the in-depth Haven programme of care.
I know also that the studies that have been done show that a huge proportion of all those people who go to the Havens report so highly about the difference that it has made to their lives and is hugely encouraging.
I suspect much of what happens is word of mouth. People tell each other and that’s how more and more people know that the Havens exist. And I know from the Haven Visitors, just how life-changing an experience their breast cancer has been, and how vital the Haven services are to helping them adjust and move on from that experience.
In more general terms, I think it is beyond doubt that the treatment of cancer using biomedical approaches has led to the most remarkable improvements. If, however, we want to make things better still, there are many who believe, and I’m one of them, that we need to go beyond the straightforward biomedical approach and include other factors too, such as lifestyle, for instance. I recently learned that the Medical and Scientific advisor for the World Cancer Research Fund estimated that 80,000 cancers could be prevented in Britain, each year, through lifestyle changes alone. We also know that nutrition, exercise and emotional well-being can have a profound effect on established cancer. It seems to me that it is time, surely, for us to take these psychosocial approaches to cancer every bit as seriously as the purely biomedical ones, if we are going to achieve the best results. Mind, body and soul should be at the heart of all of this, for it is simply not enough to treat the body in isolation.
From that point of view I’ve been so intrigued to hear about Caroline Hoffman’s work related to stress management because again stress is another issue, which is so often not included enough in the whole approach to cancer. Her research study and evaluating the mindfulness based stress reduction I think will be of enormous importance in the future.
As Patron of The Haven, I do believe very strongly that there needs to be a holistic approach in treating breast cancer, in particular, combining the very latest advances in science with the benefits of complementary therapies. I am so pleased, therefore, that The Haven’s programme offers integrated approaches, which harness the best conventional and the best complementary methods to combat both the physical and emotional effects of breast cancer and its treatment.
Of course, none of what The Haven does could be achieved without the support of wonderful individuals like yourselves and I particularly wanted to use this occasion just to thank each and every one of you, for what it’s worth, for your absolutely crucial part in supporting this vitally needed service – it really does makes all the difference to everyone that this charity helps every year.
Finally I can’t finish without stressing the difference that has been made by Nina Barough in all her efforts on dealing with cancer, the prevention of cancer and the treatment of cancer. Nina’s staggering success with her Walk the Walk movement has been quite remarkable. She’s raised £67million in the last 10 years. Her help for The Haven is also deeply appreciated. If it wasn’t for somebody like Nina I don’t know where we’d be. So Ladies and Gentlemen, I can only wish The Haven every possible success in all its wonderful work for its next 10 years. I hope I’ll be around for some of it!