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 and Pat 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 and that the mind and body are closely linked. 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.
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. The building was adapted to create a purpose-built residential centre surrounded by nature. This was made possible thanks to the funding and support of the charity Walk the Walk, and the main building is named after its founder, Nina Barough Aubertin, CBE.
“Care for the mind, spirit, emotions, heart and soul.”
- Penny Brohn, Founder of the Bristol Cancer Help Centre (now Penny Brohn UK)
Penny died in 1999, having lived with cancer for 20 years. Since those early beginnings, we've grown from a small pioneering charity to a national voice in the world of integrated medicine, combining medical advice with complementary approaches to help each individual find the support they need.
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. These remarkable women changed the face of cancer care and their legacy has provided invaluable support to thousands living with, and beyond, cancer.