THE Macmillan Horizon Centre is celebrating its second birthday.

Hundreds of people living with cancer have been helped to cope with the financial, physical, practical and emotional impact of the illness.

In its second year, 120 volunteers have donated 12,500 hours of their time to offer free services.

These include massage, counselling, complementary therapies and physical activity classes.

Welfare and benefits advisors have helped people claim more than £1.4million in benefits and grants.

This is crucial when, on average, people with cancer are up to £570 worse off every month.

There were 5,080 occasions when people visited or called the information and support area, an increase of 26 per cent from its first year.

It is based opposite the Sussex Cancer Centre in Bristol Gate, Brighton, where many visitors have chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

The centre was designed by people affected by cancer to offer a warm and welcoming space.

It was created to meet the need for support with the complex physical, psychological and practical issues people living with the disease face, which aren’t addressed in the clinical treatment environment.

Jo Gale-Smith, 48, who lives in Lindfield, was diagnosed with breast cancer in June 2017.

During her treatment, a family assessment found the mum of two teenage daughters carries the BRCA1 gene.

This immediately changed the course of her treatment and she started a gruelling three-month programme of weekly chemo treatments at the Cancer Centre.

After every treatment, Jo would go to the Horizon Centre cafe to recover and have something to eat.

She also had massages, acupuncture and reflexology, particularly to help with the symptoms of severe peripheral neuropathy in her fingers and hands.

Jo said: “Walking into the centre is like coming into a home.

“There are people looking out for you and the decor is lovely.

“Coming from chemo into the centre, I appreciated the comfort of the lighting and textures, which helped me to relax.

“It feels like a safe space.”

After her treatment finished, Jo had a double mastectomy then took a “nose dive” as she became clinically depressed and struggled with feelings of guilt about potentially passing on the BRCA gene to her daughters.

She started a six-week HOPE course at the centre. Now there is no evidence of cancer in her body.