New West Island Cancer Wellness Centre opens its doors

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WATCH ABOVE: The West Island Cancer Wellness Centre opens its new building in Kirkland. As Global's Kelly Greig reports, it was an emotional day for patients and staff – Dec 9, 2016

For those who use the West Island Cancer Wellness Centre, the bright yellow of the building is still as cheery as ever.

The brand new centre opened Friday with an official ribbon cutting.

As patients, families and the community saw the new building for the first time, many were overwhelmed.

“I have had more people in my arms crying as they walked into the centre than I ever had at the other place,” said executive director Debbie Magwood. “One woman just fell into my arms and there were tears and all she could say was ‘thank you.'”

The new space comes in at just under 11,000 square feet.

They used to be able to accommodate 225 people. Now they can handle triple that number.

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“I made a promise to the participants that we were going to build a home that had the same feel,” said Magwood. “That was a challenge because we came from this farmhouse that was intimate and warm and beautifully decorated.”

Everything in the building is state-of-the-art, from the multiple massage rooms, to the kitchen to the new offices.

The centre provides services to cancer patients and their families, with resources like nutrition and group therapy.

For many the opening is a personal journey.

Serena Choney has worked at the centre for six years.

Her mother passed away from lung cancer a decade ago.

“She’d be very proud she wouldn’t only be proud of me but that a centre like this exists,” she said. “She would have loved to have something like this while she was around.”

The design goal was to let in as much natural light as possible. The staff say the brighter space makes for brighter spirits.

“It’s not always a sombre place,” said Chenoy. “I don’t want to take want to take away from it but cancer isn’t always death. Many cancer patients want to come in and be themselves, it’s not always depressing.”