Leeds & West Yorkshire

Woman who fundraised for Leeds Maggie's Centre is now patient

Maggie's Centre in Leeds Image copyright Maggie's Centres
Image caption The Maggie's Centre in Leeds is expected to see 30,000 people a year and relies entirely on voluntary donations

A woman who fundraised to help build a Maggie's Centre in Leeds is now a patient there after a "bombshell" diagnosis of incurable cancer.

Four years ago, Karen Kilcommons vowed to raise cash for the £6m project because family and friends had been affected by the disease.

She is now one of hundreds of people who have been supported since the centre opened last month.

She said: "I never thought at the time that it would happen to me."

Maggie's is a charity which gives practical, emotional and social support for people with cancer and their family and friends through centres built in hospital grounds.

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Media captionCancer patient on new Maggie's centre open in Leeds

The idea was born from the personal experiences of Maggie Keswick Jencks and her husband Jack.

Having being told in 1993 that her advanced cancer meant she had months to live and finding themselves in a hospital corridor, the couple drew up plans for a new form of cancer centre care.

Each of the 23 centres are specially designed with particular emphasis placed on design and architecture to create an "uplifting environment" to help reduce stress and anxiety.

Many have won awards for their designs and have been collectively called the "architecture of hope" by a leading design charity.

Image copyright Maggie's Centres
Image caption Charles Jencks pictured with his late wife Maggie - both founders of Maggie's Centres
Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Built in 2013, Maggie's Aberdeen takes on the calming shape of a pebble

The Leeds base was designed by Thomas Hetherwick and is built within the grounds of St James's Hospital.

Amanda Proctor, centre manager and former cancer nurse, said it was a "breathing space" for people to drop in whenever they wanted.

Ms Kilcommons, who was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer, said: "Fundraising is something I wanted to throw myself into... at the time I was doing it because other people had been affected by cancer.

"I didn't think two years down the line it would be me but it is and I'm proud of all the money we've raised.

"It's such a lovely centre and it is going to be so worth while for a lot of people."

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