Cheung Kit-yee was in her early fifties when she was diagnosed with colorectal cancer. The news plunged her into despair as she felt all the control she had over her life slip away. But that was three years ago. Thanks to a pioneering help centre, she sees her life differently. 'Before I was sad, depressed and had lost control,' Cheung says. 'Visiting the centre I am able to share my feelings with others. That makes me feel warm. My life has totally changed - it's like having a second birth. The time I spend at the centre is my happiest in my life.' Maggie's Cancer Caring Centre opened next to the radiotherapy block at Tuen Mun Hospital in December 2008. With a kitchen and dining area it is designed to feel like a home. A team of nurses and social workers help people work through the psychological impact of being diagnosed with cancer. Patients can walk in anytime and family members are welcome. The centre was founded by Maggie Keswick Jencks, a British woman who in 1993 was diagnosed with breast cancer and told that she had just a few months to live. She joined a trial and lived for another 18 months, launching a small revolution in the meantime. Jencks believed that to avoid being a 'cancer victim' you needed help with information and psychological support. Her effort found wide support and through donations, a foundation was established, with the first Maggie's Centre opening in Edinburgh in 1996. Helen Lui Wong Yun-fong heads the centre in Hong Kong. 'We help patients to build up their confidence. We want to show them that their life can't be controlled by their illness,' she says. Connie Chan So-heung, 27, was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer two years ago. She says the centre has become a second home for her. In addition to psychological counselling, the centre provides daily programmes covering nutrition, and tai chi and yoga classes. The current centre is an interim one with a new 3,000-square-foot centre planned at the hospital in the next 18 months. Dr Stewart Tung Yuk, chief of service of clinical oncology of Tuen Mun Hospital, said the centre was different from what is usually offered. 'Patients don't feel that they are treated in the hospital,' he said.