Published on Wednesday 28 December 2011 at the Yorkshire Evening Post
She's not a doctor, but cancer patients in Leeds say she is invaluable in helping them cope with their journey. Katie Baldwin met natural healer Ruth Kaye.
'IT's to give you an ability to cope. It gives you a coping mechanism that some people might not inwardly have. I think that is paramount in dealing with any illness."
Emma Craven is a cancer patient being treated at St James's Hospital in Leeds – and she's also one of the many who have visited Ruth Kaye's haven at the hospital's new £220m cancer wing.
Ruth's role is unique within the NHS – for more than 20 years she has worked in Leeds as a natural healer to help cancer patients, their families and medical staff.
The former Samaritan has been a practising spiritual healer since 1980.
Her work at the hospital is non-denominational and suitable for people of any religion. It's not an designed to offer any kind of cure, nor will it treat the illness. It's also not designed as an alternative to conventional medical treatment.
But it does aim to provide relaxation through meditation, using breathing exercises.
The free, non-invasive treatment is holistic and can bring a raft of benefits, including boosting inner peace, increasing the ability to deal with stress, improving sleep patterns and relieving pain.
Ruth said: "It's relaxation, but people are getting so much more.
"It's coming from within. It's helping the treatment to work so much better. It brings the control back."
She has been helping cancer patients at Leeds hospitals for 23 years, firstly at the former Cookridge Hospital and then at the Bexley Wing at St James's when it opened.
"It has been pioneering," she said. "It's quite unique."
Over the years she has seen people of all ages and with all types of cancer, as well as their families. Ruth can help too when patients have specific phobias, such as of needles or if they suffer from panic attacks.
She's recently had her own struggles to deal with as she lost her own husband to a brain tumour.
Ruth makes no promises about the effects of her treatment – and she's keen to point out that for those who it doesn't suit, the Robert Ogden Macmillan Centre at St James's also offers a range of free complementary therapies.
But there is no shortage of people only too happy to testify to the difference seeing Ruth has made.
The Yorkshire Evening Post's late business editor Nigel Scott, who died from cancer two years ago, wrote in the newspaper about the comfort she had brought him.
And Emma Craven can't speak highly enough of her. She first went to see Ruth after she was told earlier this year that malignant melanoma, a type of skin cancer, which had been in remission for six years had returned.
The 44-year-old from Apperley Bridge, near Bradford, said it had helped her to relax and alleviated pain.
"Whenever I was in sessions with Ruth I was pain-free. For me it was extremely beneficial," she said.
Then she brought her parents Moya and Bob Stephenson, from Yeadon, as she thought they would see the effects too.
Mr Stephenson, who has been diagnosed with the asbestos-related cancer mesothelioma, was left feeling refreshed and Mrs Stephenson also found it alleviated the back pain she suffers from.
Emma, a mum-of-one, feels it has given her the strength to deal with her cancer diagnosis.
"I walk out of her room and feel invigorated, a bit like I can take on anything," she said.
Fellow patient Nick Best also says sessions with Ruth have helped give him deal with a very difficult year.
In January he was rushed to hospital and spent two weeks on a life support machine. He recovered but still struggled with eating and tests eventually showed he had a tumour on his oesophagus, with the cancer also having spread to his liver.
He started chemotherapy in August and then saw some of Ruth's CDs and her DVD around the hospital.
"I thought I would give it a go, and I was inspired by what I heard," the 58-year-old said.
Because of this, he decided to book in to see the healer.
"I visit Ruth on a regular basis and I find it extremely useful to me," he said.
"I was pretty uptight and finding it difficult to come to terms with the prognosis I had been given.
"I always feel uplifted when I see her and stronger for it. She's not pushing any kind of religion, but I do find it reassuring. She gives me the confidence and the inner strength to try and tackle the illness as much as I can," added the retired senior civil servant from Wetherby.
Rita Rumsey also says meeting Ruth has had a massive impact.
She first met the therapist nine years ago after she was diagnosed with multiple myeloma.
Rita was introduced to meditation and liked it so much that she started going to Ruth's regular sessions.
The 56-year-old from Morley feels meditation has helped her cope with treatment and given her the strength to set up a support group in Leeds for patients with the same illness.
"There's no way I would've been able to do that if I had not met Ruth," she said.
"I feel re-energised. There are things that have happened in my life that I would not have been able to cope with if I had not met Ruth and found this fantastic meditation."
Often it is medical staff who recommend Ruth to patients.
Andrea Gibson, research sister at the Bexley Wing, said: "It's ideal for them to bob in, not just the patients but the relatives who come with them.
"Every patient that I have known to come to Ruth has benefited from it.
"To be able to go into an area that's quiet where they can just focus on themselves makes a big difference.
"It's not a cure or offering false hope – but it is about relaxation."
* Patients can see Ruth on a drop-in basis in the Complementary Therapy Room at the Oncology Day Case Unit in Bexley Wing. On Thursdays at 11am she runs a support meditation group in the wing's Faith Centre. Contact Ruth at firstname.lastname@example.org, on (0113) 2067428 or for more information log on to: www.ruthkaye.net.