About Maggies

What is Maggie’s?

A Maggie’s Centre is a place to turn to for help with any of the problems, small or large,
associated with cancer.
Under one roof you can access help with information, benefits advice, psychological
support both individually and in groups, courses and stress reducing strategies. You
don’t have to make an appointment, or be referred and everything we offer is free of
charge.
It is there for anybody who feels the need for help, which includes those who love and
look after someone with cancer, who often feel as frightened and vulnerable as those
who actually have the disease.
A Maggie’s Centre will be many things to many people. It is there for anybody to use in
the way they want to. There isn’t a one size fits all recipe for how you live with cancer.
Everybody needs to find their own way.
The job of the professionals at Maggie’s is to listen to you, to help you find out what
you want and give you the tools to help yourself.

Every Maggie’s centre:

  • is built beside an NHS cancer hospital. That means they’re easy to get to if you are
    receiving treatment at the hospital but also reflects our close relationship with the
    NHS.
  • is individual and built to stand out from the hospital beside it.
  • is built around the kitchen. There is a large central table and the kettle is always on.
  • has interesting artwork on the walls, comfortable furniture with plumped cushions
  • and refreshing views. The flowers are fresh and the fruit bowl full.
  • has an open plan design. There are no long corridors or rows of shut doors. There
    are no signs on doors or arrows to point out your way.

“Although the design and aesthetics of the building are key elements of the Maggie’s
philosophy, those first impressions of light, calm, comfort, welcome and difference were
mesmerising as we gradually took in the surroundings”

Andy Millward

“This is a place that feels as if it’s about life, rathereassurance and respite.”

Deyan Sudjic

Who was Maggie?

Maggie Keswick Jencks, wife, mother, daughter, scholar and writer, landscape designer
and painter, was the woman with whom this whole project started.
She had vitality and determination in abundance. She needed every ounce of these
when she found herself fighting for her life in 1993, when she was diagnosed with
metastasized breast cancer and told that she had just a few months to live.
Having joined a trial for metastasised breast cancer and won an eighteen month
reprieve, she put all her recovered energy in to fighting for the supportive adjunct to
your medical treatment which she felt was desperately needed by anybody having to
learn how to rebuild a life with cancer as part of it.
She was asked to write an article for a medical journal, a patient’s perspective on
being treated for cancer. ‘A View from the Frontline’gave her the opportunity to
work out what it was that she and the many others in the frontline with her needed.
She was convinced that everybody would feel better as she did, if they felt able to
take some active role in what was happening to them. In order not to be a ‘cancer
victim’, she believed you needed help with information which would allow you to be an
informed participant in your medical treatment, help with stress reducing strategies,
psychological support and the opportunity to meet up and share with other people in
similar circumstances in a relaxed domestic atmosphere.
Maggie was a good writer. ‘The Chinese Garden’, first published in 1978 is a classic.
It is a lucid history of Chinese gardens and the philosophy that underpins them, based
on the many trips she made to China where her family had long standing trading links.
Although it is only a short essay’A View from the Frontline’, turned out to be a radical
call to arms.

She persuaded her medical team at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh that
they needed partners who could help their patients with the very real, if not medical,
problems of living with cancer. She drew up a blueprint and plans for a pioneering little
venture, in a stable block a bow shot away from where she was being treated.
She found time during that precious last eighteen months to work with Frank Gehry on
an ambitious landscape plan for a project that Frank was designing in California. It was
for love of her that Frank designed the Maggie’s Centre in Dundee which confirmed
what Richard Murphy and David Page had already proved in Edinburgh and Glasgow:
the importance of an imaginative, inspiring place for people to be able to turn to at such
a critical moment in their lives, somewhere which feels joyous, a beacon of hope.

For further information on Maggie’s please visit:
www.maggiescentres.org