'Cancer, it does not go away from the community' - Stalwart's charity born out of heartache to help others
PUBLISHED: 06:00 11 April 2019 | UPDATED: 16:13 17 April 2019
For the last 17 years, hundreds of people affected by cancer have walked through the doors of a small mid-Norfolk charity.
From enjoying a cup of tea and biscuits with other people going through the same heartache, to joining in with the many activities on offer, people touched by the disease have been coming to Dereham Cancer Care in search of support, friendship, and guidance.
Tucked away at Baldings Yard off Cowper Road, the charity is the brainchild of its founder Janet Money.
The 72-year-old, from Scarning, was first touched by cancer after her nephew died from the disease in 1990, aged 14.
Then, just four years later, she lost her 19-year-old son Zane.
She said: “After I lost my son, I did nothing - I had no interest in life.
“Then I got cancer and went through treatment. Through that I realised there was no where for people to go to who needed help, no where to sit quietly and have a tea. I knew it was something Dereham needed.”
Mrs Money was diagnosed with breast cancer in October 1998. By the end of the year she had undergone a mastectomy and treatment.
“I found it very difficult because there was no one to talk to inbetween treatment. I was left and I felt very abandoned.
“I joined a nationwide cancer charity, which then had started up in Dereham, but it shut down after only 11 months. So, with a few like-minded people, we decided to carry on with help.
“The late Brian Cross offered us a unit rent-free for a year and then said he would continue to offer it at a reduce rate for the duration of our time there. We've never left.”
On April 4, 2002, Mr Cross officially opened the charity's headquarters and became its patron.
A local businessman and former mayor , the 62-year-old was diagnosed with a lymphoma on the brainstem. It was declared inoperable and despite radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment, he passed away nine months after his diagnosis in 2006.
Then Mrs Money was put through further heartache when her daughter, Tracey Baker, died suddenly from an undiagnosed brain tumour at the age of 34, in 2003.
She said: “My daughter was proud I started the charity and I was gutted I lost her just a year after setting it up.
“The charity helped me deal with the loss of my son but since losing Tracey, the charity is what got me up every morning and it's still what gets me up every morning.
“Nobody needs to be lost in a crowd here at Dereham Cancer Care. Having gone through what many of the people who come here have gone through I think I can relate very much.”
Over the years the group has had grants and funding to improve the building and offer different therapies.
In November 2012 the Moving On Project building was opened, while the original building became used for supporting services and information.
“We wanted people to feel as if they had a space to come to where they could come and be with other people, whether they wanted to talk or just sit silently.
“Cancer, it does not go away from the community.”
The charity, which helps anyone within a 10 to 12 mile radius of Dereham, costs around £24,000 a year to run. Mrs Money described applying for grants “like looking for a needle in a haystack”.
“People do still fundraise for us and we are looking for a charity partner if a business was interested in considering us.”
So what exactly does Dereham Cancer Care do?
The Dereham Cancer Care centre offers support, friendship and information to cancer patients, their families and carers, or anyone who has been touched by cancer in the Dereham area.
Services include trained volunteer befrienders, extensive literature from Macmillan Cancer Support, loans of books, leaflets and equipment including wheelchairs, walkers, rubber rings and chillow pillows for patients.
Appointments are offered with qualified therapists for reflexology, aromatherapy, Reiki and counselling.
The group also holds regular fundraisers, including a cash prize bingo held monthly at Dereham Town Football Club, at Aldiss Park. And on May 17 this will also be the venue for the Colours Fundraising Fashion Show. Tickets are limited and must be booked in advance from the centre or by ringing 01362 288089.
The charity also offers respite holidays from its holiday home at Hopton Holiday Village.
The next coffee morning at the centre is Tuesday April 16.
For more information ring 01362 851439 or 01362 698527. The charity is based at Baldings Yard off Cowper Road, Dereham. Opening times can be found on the website .
Volunteering matters: Christine Harrison, long-term helper
Dereham Cancer Care is run by volunteers and currently there are around 18 on hand to help.
As well as being a person for users to come and talk to, volunteers also help with tasks such as the running of events or even making a much needed cuppa.
Christine Harrison, who lives near Dereham, has been volunteering for the charity for about seven years following her retirement.
Mrs Harrison has also been affected by cancer after her mother died from the disease aged 64.
She said that volunteering for Dereham Cancer Care was a very rewarding thing to do and encouraged others to get involved if they could.
She added: “It gets me out of the house once a week and I do just love it.
“I enjoy coming along and helping, from baking cakes to just mixing in and doing everything really.
“I just try and support as much as I can.”
Janet Money and Dereham Cancer Care has been nominated for The Times' Unsung Heroes campaign . Do you know a person or organisation that deserves recognition? Nominations can be from anyone of any age, or any local organisation, as long as they are based in or around Dereham, Fakenham or Wells. To enter fill in the form here for Dereham or here for Fakenham and Wells or email Donna-Louise.Bishop@archant.co.uk.