Leeds-born Harriet Dow is “delighted” about work starting on the Maggie’s centre.
She was initially diagnosed with breast cancer in 2001 aged 24.
After believing she had got through the ordeal, in May 2014 she was told the same cancer had been there for 13 years and had also moved on to her left lung. In addition, she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.
The breast cancer is at stage four, and therefore incurable, but following an operation to remove her lung Mrs Dow is doing well.
“I still now have no evidence of secondary breast cancer. It’s fair to say that was life-changing,” she told the ceremony yesterday.
Although she said that cancer is “torturous”, she was “over the moon” that work on the Maggie’s centre is finally getting under way.
“When you have cancer, it’s lovely when you come across somebody else that says ‘Yeah, I get it, I understand’.
“It’s lovely to be able to talk about your treatment. For somebody to go ‘Yeah, I haven’t been able to sleep for three weeks’ or ‘That was really painful’. It’s a relief to know you are not alone.”
And she believes that psychological care for those that have been diagnosed is “absolutely crucial”.
“Looking after your mental health when you have cancer is of paramount importance.
“Sometimes you don’t want to get out of bed – sometimes you physically can’t get out of bed.
“People look at me and think I’m really, really well and sometimes I’m not.”
She said that when she was first diagnosed “there was nothing like Maggie’s around” and it could lead to her feeling alone.
And one aspect of the centres Mrs Dow believes is important is that family members and friends are also welcome to use them.
She said: “If you are a partner of somebody with cancer, that must be unbelievably hard – I’ve never been in that position.
“Especially when you have an incurable diagnoses. It’s there constantly. That’s extremely wearing for a partner.
“Maggie’s offers so much support, and for children as well.”
Mrs Dow, who was raised in Bramhope and Headingley but now lives in Knaresborough, has raised thousands of pounds alongside her husband Robin and family to bring a Maggie’s centre to Yorkshire.
Anyone who wishes to donate to the charity’s fund for the Leeds centre can visit its fundraising page at www.justgiving.com/campaigns/charity/maggies/yorkshire