AFTER breast cancer charity Haven shut its doors in Hereford many were left helpless.

But now a group of Herefordshire women, with their own stories, have come together to give them the support they need.

Breast cancer Haven was a place of support for many people going through breast cancer.

However, it's income was "severely impacted" by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Hereford hub needed to be sold to keep the charity afloat, this led it to sadly close in February.

Five women founded the Herefordshire Breast Cancer Support Group (HBCSG), situated at St Michael's hospice in Bartestree, in response to this.

Hereford Times: All five committee members together with care packages that each member receives when joiningAll five committee members together with care packages that each member receives when joining

Here the group offers a safe, secure, confidential environment for women to share their fears and worries and success's, who once would have used the Haven for this.

Hereford Times: Founder and trustee Di EmmettFounder and trustee Di Emmett

Founder and trustee of the support group, Di Emmett, 66, of central Hereford, has been nursing for over 28 years, her background primarily in palliative care and oncology.

The support group has seen an increase in breast cancer cases amongst young women recently, she said.

"Women can often live with the fear of the cancer returning, patients tell me, it's like living with a gun pointed at their head and they are just waiting for the trigger to be pulled.

"I have seen first-hand during my career the effect a breast cancer diagnosis has on a woman and her family and friends.

"The toll of all treatment seems to be manifested upon discharge from the hospital setting.

"Breast cancer robs a woman of her confidence, self-esteem, femininity. Her body image is very often different from pre diagnosis," she said.

The aim of the Herefordshire breast cancer support group is to empower women to live well after their breast cancer.

The team enable this through evidenced based information and expert speakers who share their knowledge.

They hope they can enable women to "move forward "after their treatment and discharge form hospital with confidence and provide strategies to help them cope with their life ahead.

Hereford Times: Founder and trustee Sarah QuigleyFounder and trustee Sarah Quigley

Committee member and founder Sarah Quigley, 40, has lost her auntie, friend and stepmother Tina to the disease.

Whilst her mother has also fought her own battle.

Sarah was inspired by the support Tina received before she passed.

"I knew what the support meant from people who were going through the same things she was, and how priceless it is for the wellbeing of cancer sufferers and their mental health," she said.

Hereford Times: Founder and trustee Amy McRaeFounder and trustee Amy McRae

Founder and trustee of the support group and radiographer Amy McRae, 44, of central Hereford, was diagnosed with breast cancer three years ago.

"The tables had been turned and I was now on the other side of story."

"I found peer support extremely helpful in supporting me emotionally which enabled me to move forward following treatment," she said.

Hereford Times: Founder and trustee Helen MacklinFounder and trustee Helen Macklin

Nutritional therapist Helen Macklin, 46, of central Hereford, is also a founder and trustee of Herefordshire breast cancer support group.

She has worked to support women with a diagnosis of breast for several years, and her own family's history of breast cancer led to her current career.

Helen has previously worked for a breast cancer charity that offered a range of complementary therapies including nutritional therapy.

She was able to witness how access to such services could help support patient's wellbeing throughout active treatment and beyond.

Following the closure of her previous charity, Helen felt compelled to do something so that those diagnosed with breast cancer in Herefordshire were still able to access support and other services.

Hereford Times: Founder and trustee Lindsey WalkerFounder and trustee Lindsey Walker

Lindsey Cave, 48, of Leominster, founder and trustee, received a breast cancer diagnosis in 2018, which led her to attend a breast cancer support group at the Haven.

When Lindsey's breast cancer treatment ended Haven helped her with her "new normal" life after cancer treatment.

"The scars of breast cancer treatment are mental as well as physical and people need the support more than ever after active treatment has ended."

"When Breast Cancer Haven closed its doors for good, I knew we couldn't lose this vital support for local people in Herefordshire so with Di's support we set about forming a committee from which Herefordshire Breast Cancer Support Group was born," she said.

During her time at Haven, she gained mutual support from other women.

"We laughed together, and we cried together, and I found friends for life through this group."

Hereford Times: Group members during a meeting at St Michaels HospiceGroup members during a meeting at St Michaels Hospice

Throughout the year they plan to hold events to raise money for the group, including a fashion show next year.

They are continuing to offer monthly support sessions via zoom and various face to face meetings.

Any fundraising to help with the support groups needs to be carried out by individuals raising donations or via Just Giving.

Hereford Times: The Right worshipful Mayor of Hereford councillor Paul Stevens and The Herefordshire High Sheriff Jo Hillditch attend the groups launchThe Right worshipful Mayor of Hereford councillor Paul Stevens and The Herefordshire High Sheriff Jo Hillditch attend the groups launch

For information on how to seek support from the group, visit their website hbcsg.uk or Facebook page.