When BBC journalist and producer Carly Appleby interviewed Christine Mills, MBE, founder of Hope for Tomorrow, about her charity, she never dreamed that she’d soon have first-hand knowledge of the services it offers.
Hope for Tomorrow brings cancer care closer to home via its fleet of Mobile Cancer Care Units (MCCUs), which operate in partnership with NHS Trusts around the country. Treatment on board saves travelling time, parking worries and stress for cancer patients, as well as relieving pressure on Oncology Units.
Carly, who worked for many years as a mid-morning producer for BBC News in London, was 37 and living in Cirencester, Gloucestershire, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer, in February 2017. Six rounds of chemotherapy, a mastectomy and lymph node clearance soon followed – all of which were carried out at Cheltenham General Hospital, a half-hour drive from Carly’s home.
In the summer, she continued a three-week cycle of Herceptin treatment on board Hope for Tomorrow’s MCCU in Cirencester.
“I wanted treatment on board from the beginning,” Carly says. “For various reasons it wasn’t possible then, but now the MCCU is here in Cirencester, it’s great – it saves me so much time.” Her 30-minute journey for treatment is now only five minutes.
“There’s a lovely atmosphere on the chemo bus,” she says. “The nurses are wonderful – I already know them from the Oncology Unit – the chairs are the same, very comfortable, and I’m getting to meet other local people. When I first heard about Hope for Tomorrow and the idea of bringing cancer treatment closer to people’s homes, I thought then that it was a brilliant idea – and now I know it.
“To know you’ll be seen quickly in such a caring and friendly environment makes the experience so much easier to deal with. I am very grateful to Christine and Hope for Tomorrow.”