Valerie Lepedat- Co - founder of Aurora
In 1997, I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer. On the eve of my mastectomy operation, I met three more ladies also waiting for the same operation. We all became good friends, supporting and helping each other through our cancer journeys.
The nursing staff were first class and the surgeon and oncologist were second to none. The only disadvantage was dealing with the physical and psychological side effects.
I lost my hair, became fat through taking steroids and was constantly depressed. My self-esteem suffered and I also experienced difficulty coming to terms with my prosthesis.
My friends and I thought how wonderful it would be if there was a place to meet, non-medical, comfortable and relaxing. Somewhere we could discuss our problems in private, and be helped to come to terms with hair loss, skin care and generally be advised individually.
An oasis where we could be PAMPERED, a beauty salon for cancer patients.
The forward thinking management at Doncaster Royal Infirmary were extremely supportive of the idea. In 2002 they set aside a facility in the chemotherapy suite (the dream was being realised).
Initial funding; including set up costs and salary for a part time professional beauty therapist was secured from the Fred & Ann Green Legacy, left to benefit patients of the Doncaster & Bassetlaw NHS Trust for non-medical services.
In September 2002, the dream became a reality. A unique beauty salon with a difference opened to cancer patients in and aroundDoncaster. The centre was named AURORA.
All cancer patients both men and women are offered six treatments of their choice. Everyone is warmly welcomed by our kind and thoughtful volunteers and beauty therapists. The Aurora centre provides an uplifting environment at a time when patients feel vulnerable and uncertain about the future.
In 2005, our second centre was opened in Mexborough Montagu Hospital by our patron, Carolyn Hodgson.
The centres have no secure funding and are reliant upon donations and fundraising.
Written by Aurora's founder member, Valerie Lepedat.
Val sadly lost her cancer battle in November 2010 but her legacy in Aurora still lives on.