Our story began in 1979 when our founder, Penny Brohn, was diagnosed with breast cancer. Penny, who grew up in Bristol, knew instinctively that she needed more than just care and treatment for her body. She recognised that she needed to care equally for her, “mind, spirit, emotions, heart and soul”. With her close friend Pat Pilkington, she set out to find what she was looking for.
Four years later, Penny (on the right) and Pat (left) had created a centre so others could access the care Penny had needed. The Bristol Cancer Help Centre was opened in 1983, with HRH the Prince of Wales becoming our patron in 1997.
At the time, Pat and Penny’s approach was thought by the established medical community to be on the very fringes of medicine. Today however, it’s recognised widely that our health involves more than just our body.
It’s also now accepted that a person living with cancer can do a great many things to support their own health and wellbeing. This is what motivates our work.
Penny died in 1999, having lived with cancer for 20 years. Pat Pilkington was awarded an MBE in 2003, in recognition of her work and continued to be actively involved with the charity as a Trustee until her death in 2013.
In 2007, we moved to our current home, a grade ll-listed building set in four acres of beautifully-maintained gardens on the outskirts of Bristol. This was made possible thanks to the funding and support of the charity Walk the Walk.
Walk the Walk, a grant-making breast cancer charity and organisers of the famous MoonWalk, has been helping us to bring improved health to people affected by cancer since 2000.
Through money raised by events, including The MoonWalk London, their support has helped us keep our services free and enabled us to take our approach into new communities across the UK.
Working in partnership with other charities and healthcare providers enables us to reach even more people living with cancer. We are currently delivering services in partnership with GenesisCare.