The story of Maggie Keswick Jencks
Touring the car-parks looking for a space in a busy cancer hospital will reveal a small modern building set apart in the grounds. This is the Cancer Centre.
Maggie Keswick Jencks was a designer, married to architect and designer Charles Jencks. After being diagnosed with cancer, Maggie worked to create a blueprint for a place for people affected by cancer, different from a traditional hospital.
“Maggie got her diagnosis in a 20-minute slot with her consultant, who then said ‘I’m really sorry, I know it’s terrible news, but I’ve got another patient to see.’ And she was in shock. She got put out into one of these stereotypical corridors with nowhere to sit, and all she wanted was to go and have a cry and take it all in.”
The emergence of a blueprint:
Maggie wanted to have a more human place to absorb what was happening. Consequently, she thought about what patients and families need during cancer diagnosis and treatment. The brief she came up with is hard to categorise. “So it’s a bit more than a house, but it’s not a house, and it’s into art, but it’s not an art gallery, and it’s kind of spiritual, but it’s not a church, and it’s like a hospital, but it’s not medical.”
So Maggie started something amazing before she died in June 1995. The first Maggie’s Centre opened in Edinburgh in 1996. As a result there are now 15 Centers at major NHS cancer hospitals in the UK.
Norfolk and Norwich Hospital:
At NNUH the Big C Centre follows the same blueprint. So does the Louise Hamilton Centre at James Paget Hospital. Thus, these centers are providing counselling, family therapy, complementary therapies, courses on looking good, feeling good and eating well. All in an airy, light, comfortable environment where you are free to make a cup of tea and relax.
Big C is Norfolk’s Cancer Charity, and you can find them in the grounds of the Norfolk and Norich Hospital. They can offer you:
Look Good Feel Better
Bereavement Support Group
Food and Nutrition Workshops
Cancer Information Day – Living Well with and after cancer
The HOPE Course