Michelle Obama In London Visits Maggie's Cancer Center
Michelle Obama in London is trying raise awareness about cancer treatment by visiting Maggie's Cancer Caring Centers. The Cancer Centers were honoured to welcome Michelle Obama, First Lady of the United States of America, and Patron of Maggie’s, Sarah Brown to the London centre today for the first year anniversary of the centre, which has already received over 12,000 users since it opened last year.
Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centres is a unique charity which offers beautifully designed environments for anyone affected by any type of cancer - including family, friends and carers - to get information, practical advice and emotional support.
“Bringing Michelle to the London centre was a great opportunity to demonstrate the role that Maggie’s plays in the community, inspiring wellbeing through their design and providing the emotional support required to live with a critical illness such as cancer. They were originally inspired by American influences in the provision of cancer support which has now taken root all over the UK” said Sarah Brown
Marking one of just a select few activities chosen for Michelle Obama’s first visit in London in her official capacity, she and Sarah Brown were shown around Maggie’s London Centre by Charles Jencks, who co-founded Maggie’s with his wife Maggie Keswick Jencks; Laura Lee, Maggie’s Chief Executive; the architect Richard Rogers of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners and garden and landscape designer Dan Pearson.
Michelle Obama in London met with centre users to discuss the benefits of the centre, joined a make-up session for women with cancer and celebrated the centres first birthday with a cup of tea and slice of cake.
Centre user Namina Turay, who has had treatment for breast cancer, described the first lady as "warm and friendly". She said "it's her first official visit and this is a great honour. It's such a privilege, she's so natural and really easy to talk to. The warmth and patience she showed and the time she took to engage with everyone was greatly appreciated."
Obama, talking about the centre said "this is pretty incredible. This is pretty amazing, it's an oasis - an oasis that's necessary for people who are struggling. The building actualises their journey in so many ways".
April marks a highly successful first year for Maggie’s London. Within weeks of opening the doors the Centre was already receiving a similar number of visits a day as the most established Centres, and by the end of 2008 had received 12,000. There are currently 5 Maggie’s Centres in Scotland, this being the first in England, and there are plans to build five more across England and Wales by 2012. Maggie’s ultimately hopes to provide a Cancer Caring Centre for every NHS Cancer Hospital throughout the UK, so as to provide the widest range of unique services for anyone who wants to access them.
Michelle Obama commented on the centre, “I was delighted to be invited by Sarah Brown to help wish Maggie’s a happy first birthday in London, community jewels like this Centre should always be celebrated. I was impressed with the Centre’s warm and caring environment and enjoyed meeting the people who work and get services here.”
All of the existing Centres are situated beside an NHS Cancer Hospital and has been designed to be as non-institutional as possible, through creative uses of light, design and colour, and with a kitchen at the heart of every one. Anyone can visit a Maggie’s Centre; it’s a free service and there is no need for an appointment. All the centres are run by professional, specialist staff that are always at hand to talk about any aspect of cancer. A Maggie’s Centre gives people choices. They can join a support group, take part in weekly sessions such as relaxation and stress management, or learn about nutrition and health. Or they can simply come in and sit at our kitchen table, have a cup of tea and a biscuit and start to breathe again.