Last week, more than 350 ladies watched Chai clients light up the runway at the much anticipated ‘Chai Fashion with Averyl’ at Finchley Synagogue. The spectacular event which has so far raised over £90,000 will ensure that Chai is able to provide its expertise and care to any member of the Jewish community affected by a cancer diagnosis.
The fashion show was a huge success, showcasing the stunning Spring/Summer ’18 collection from Averyl’s emporium on Finchley Road. The fabulous runway show had everyone on up on their feet dancing, as the enthusiasm was infectious! A delicious and beautifully presented lunch was then served by Food Story and their wonderful team.
After lunch, guests had a chance to hear from Chai client, Katherine Lennard, who spoke about how Chai helped her through her cancer journey, she said: “It was December 2010 – I remember clearly it was the first time I came in to Chai in Hendon. Almost exactly a year before, I had been diagnosed with a very rare form of Cancer of the Neuro Endocrine system otherwise known as Neuro Endocrine Tumours or NETS. The primary small tumour was in my lung but there were 5 larger tumours in my liver. I had been shocked, horrified to hear that all the tumours were malignant. It was terminal. The best option, I had been told, was surgery – but I was not eligible because of the size of the tumours. You can imagine the devastation that I and my family felt. In that split second our lives had changed forever.
A couple of friends had mentioned Chai to me early on but it took me a whole year to pick up the phone and make that first, very difficult call for help. I was exhausted by then having had 3 rounds of Chemotherapy which had failed to stabilise or shrink my tumours. This was followed by 3 rounds of hugely powerful intravenous nuclear medicine.
So here I was, feeling exhausted and short on hope sitting in Chai’s surprisingly bright, modern and stylishly decorated reception. At first, I started to see a highly qualified counsellor once a week. At last I could unburden myself, benefiting from the wisdom of a professional. It was so much easier to talk freely about my disease without causing stress to family or friends – knowing that I was in a completely safe and, most crucially, a confidential place. I continue to do so 7 years on. And when I was unwell or in hospital Chai came to me. It was so comforting to have that support followed through to home or in hospital. Supporting me when I most needed the help.
We also had family therapy. For that I had to drag my reluctant teenage boys along. But to my great surprise, following this meeting, my then 16 year old son asked to see a counsellor. The fact that Chai gained not only the trust of my son, but also many other youngsters speaks volumes about their experience and care.
Amazingly, in 2011 my tumours stabilised and reduced enough in size for surgery. Since these surgeries I have had other interventions non-stop for over 6 years. And Chai has been there with me every step of the way. I loved the art and jewellery classes and I always left feeling enriched and enlivened. I was formulating a new life with my beloved Chai guiding me and always at my side. I also benefitted from aromatherapy, reflexology and healing. There are also many other complementary therapies and medical services that I have used, including appointments with a Palliative Care Consultant. As my health has deteriorated and the cancer treatments leaving me with many side effects, this has been of fantastic benefit to me.
In time Chai actually gave me everything that I needed but more than just the practical. Step by step, hand in hand, I felt alive again. My life had a sense of fun and purpose. Many of us are still living with Cancer. I live day by day, I take powerful and toxic chemo tablets two weeks out of four. This is what is now keeping me alive.
Chai enables me to find meaning and to live my new life with quality, respect, dignity and most of all love.”
Chai’s Chairman, Louise Hager, said: ‘Averyl’s loyal commitment means so much to us all! Her enthusiasm and attention to detail mirrors Chai’s ethos, to provide a service that is a combination of expertise but always delivered from the heart. The money raised from ‘Chai Fashion with Avery’l will enable us to continue to be the trusted and constant compass to all those who turn to us.”