Incredible support from across the whole spectrum of the community enabled Chai Cancer Care, the Jewish Community’s only dedicated cancer support organisation to hit its target £1.2m at its annual Dinner last night (9th December). The event entitled ‘The Moment’ was held for the fifth time at London’s Roundhouse and was attended by 750 guests, raising the much needed funds for Chai to provide its all-encompassing specialist support and care services to 3,740 people affected by a cancer diagnosis.
Chai Chairman, Louise Hager spoke movingly about how in a moment, a cancer diagnosis can change your life forever. She said: “Sometimes you hear a song and it takes you back to a time or place. Moments indelibly etched in our minds that bring with them feelings and emotions, often when you least expect it. A cancer diagnosis is one of those moments. It takes a life that might be considered ordinary or familiar – and changes it forever.
Yet, for our clients, right now, there is another moment that brings with it a different set of feelings and emotions. And that is the first time they come into contact with Chai and enter a transformative world of support.
Whenever I talk with people who haven’t seen Chai in action, I get that sympathetic look – the tilted head! They assume that working in the world of cancer is overwhelmingly depressing. In fact, the opposite is true! I tell them how one of our clients described Chai as “one of happiest places in London.” About how, for those encountering their darkest moments, Chai is the lifeline that sees them through. Even if just for a moment in a day of hospital appointments and chemotherapy.
Of course we have some sad days, some days that really get to you but I know that I speak for all of us at Chai when I say that it is a huge privilege to do what we do. Because when I walk round the centre I am always inspired by what I see. Every day is filled with precious moments.
One of our youngest clients, is a 3 year old boy whose father has bowel cancer. On his first visit he was reluctant to even come through our doors. Now he literally sprints down the corridors to see his play therapist. On his way he’ll pass the kitchen and catch the delicious smells of the food lovingly prepared by our volunteers, nourishing not just the body, but the soul too. As you walk further along you can hear men and women pounding the treadmill in the gym – building up their strength and resilience following surgery or radiotherapy.
Go upstairs and you’ll hear the sounds of laughter in the Art room where you’ll find real beauty, not just in the art created but in the camaraderie and friendship. People going through similar situations coming together with a paint brush in their hand. And next door the singing from the music workshop – a perfect accompaniment to our budding artists.
Of course, if peace and quiet is more your thing, then the sound of silence from the pilates group in the large hall is something special. Only broken when it’s time for lunch in the glorious, light-filled garden room. They are often joined by those who have just had a counselling or complementary therapy session, walking through the hallways with more purpose and even with a spring in their step. And that’s just in our flagship centre, with so much more happening in our 11 satellites across the UK.
Not to mention the moment when a housebound client opens their door to our Home Support Service – bringing Chai and its many services to them. Or the child who is struggling through the day until they benefit from our ‘Chai in Schools’ Programme which operates in 23 schools nationally.
This is a whistle-stop tour of some the moments that punctuate every day at Chai. This, is cancer care at its best. Enabling all those we support to adapt to the change in their life and regain a level of control.”
Guests were then shown the appeal film featuring best friends, Rochelle Goldstein and Selena Levy. The film can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/378519214
Dr Jane Neerkin, Consultant in Palliative Medicine UCLH and the National Hospital for Neurology & Neurosurgery introduced our information film, ‘The Chai Effect’ which can be viewed here: https://vimeo.com/378533474
Later in the evening, guests were treated to a performance from The Conductors, who got the audience on their feet with their immersive performances of ‘Stand by Me’, ‘Be Happy’, ‘500 Miles’ and ‘L’Chaim’.