In October 2020, Bill Cooke was diagnosed with bladder cancer. Preferring not to know the prognosis, an operation followed in January 2021 which he hoped would be successful.
“They hoped that they’d removed all of it, but unfortunately, a couple of months later, after a PET scan, there was some residue which remained”, explained Bill, who is 80 and lives near Great Yarmouth with his wife of over 60 years.
“I was given chemo which is how I first heard of Hope for Tomorrow’s Mobile Cancer Care Unit (MCCU). It has saved me an awful lot of hassle.”
Although Bill lives just a few miles from Great Yarmouth, the journey to the James Paget University Hospital where he was a patient was often not a straightforward one.
“The hospital for me is the other side of the town, which means travelling at various times of the day when there are congestion points and it’s not always easy. Sometimes, I had to allow an hour to get there to ensure I arrived on time for treatment. Fortunately, the unit is based in the next village from me in Tesco’s car park, which is no more than six minutes’ drive away.”
With the added convenience of free parking where he “could virtually park outside the door of the unit”, the travel time he saved meant he could enjoy one of his favourite hobbies.
“I’ve got a big garden which I like to spend time in; the hour I have saved in travelling means I can maintain it a lot more easily! I have a fairly active lifestyle and there’s always plenty to do. I’ve also got the beach close to me and it’s nice to have more time to take advantage of that.
“The other great thing about the MCCU was that I saw the same nurses each week which was a great comfort. This isn’t necessarily always the case at the hospital, as often you don’t know who you are going to see. At the unit, you have a cup of coffee and you can enjoy that with the same familiar faces. The whole experience was very convenient and it helped enormously.
“I have had six major doses and six smaller doses of chemo, which finished in October last year. At the moment they’re monitoring things and everything seems to be going in the right direction.”
Six months before Bill’s own diagnosis, his son Damon was diagnosed with lung cancer, something he describes as “a bit of a nightmare situation”. Having had an initial course of chemotherapy, Damon is now on a continuous programme of immunotherapy. “Thankfully, Damon’s been in a position to make use of the MCCU too, living close by, which has been brilliant.
“Without the unit, our situations would be far more stressful. It means we can focus on the treatment rather than worrying about how long it will take to get there through traffic. This makes an enormous difference and we are forever grateful to Hope for Tomorrow.”
Bill has also recently taken on the role of President of his local Rotary Club, and one of the first items on his agenda is raising much needed funds for the charity: “I’m now in a position where I can give back, and our aim this year is to fundraise for Hope for Tomorrow, to ensure others can have access to the same level of care I had without having to travel miles to sit in a busy waiting room.”