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Patricia Fuller

…it is very sociable and relaxing on board

Patricia Fuller’s cancer diagnosis came as a bolt out of the blue in August 2022.

“For me it was just my annual blood test” explained Patricia, “then I received a phone call to say that my haemoglobin levels were low and I had to come into hospital”. Follow-up tests and scans revealed that Patricia had bowel cancer and, moreover, that the cancer may have travelled to her lungs. “My husband Chris and I were both utterly shocked,” recalls Patricia, “there were no warning signs, no symptoms at all”.

A bowel operation followed in January 2023 at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, a 32-mile round trip from where Patricia, 74, and her husband Chris, 68, live in Folkestone, Kent.

Then, still reeling from the initial diagnosis and in recovery from her operation, Patricia was sent to Guy’s Hospital, London, to explore what was happening in her lungs. She was presented with three stark choices by the consultant: leave it – ‘the cancer is growing very slowly’, a biopsy, or an operation to take away part of her left lung.

Patricia said: “We asked the consultant to advise us, but he explained, ‘the choice has to be yours’”. She chose a biopsy which was carried out in April 2023 which revealed cancer in her left lung, and in July a portion of her lung was taken away.

Patricia continues: “I now have a PICC line that delivers medication into veins near my heart that has to be checked and my chemotherapy infuser bottle has to be removed every 10 days. In July, I was asked if I would like to use the Hope for Tomorrow mobile unit, (affectionately nicknamed ‘Caron’) and I must admit –

having some of my treatment on board, where it’s peaceful, calm and safe has been excellent from every point of view.

Chris says how much easier the Hope for Tomorrow mobile unit has made their lives: “The mobile is brilliant – it parks in the Tesco car park which is literally a two-minute drive from our house. It’s saved us hours of time and money too. My wife knows everyone of course, Pat the nurse, all the NHS nursing staff – and of course Dennis the driver! I always say the only person she doesn’t know is the Pope!”.

Patricia laughs and confesses: “I am chatty, and it is very sociable and relaxing on board. It takes about 15 minutes to remove my infuser and check and clean my PICC line. All the staff and the driver get involved with helping the patients. There’s time for a cup of tea and a catch up – and, unlike the time spent in hospital, the time on board is a pleasant part of my treatment. And that’s an important part of getting better”.

September 2023 marks a halfway point in Patricia’s 12 chemotherapy treatments and consultants say that her lung is clear and progress is looking good, although Patricia’s low immunity means she still has to be very careful.

“Because of the chemotherapy, I suffer from a very painful side effect called cold dysesthesia,” she explains, “so no going near open fridges, or the chilled sections of supermarkets for me, but Chris cares for me so well and does the shopping, cooking – everything that’s needed. We are close to our family too, our two sons, our grandchildren and my three sisters, which is helping us through this time”.

The couple have witnessed how vital the Hope for Tomorrow mobile unit can be, not only for Patricia but for others throughout the East Kent region; having often seen people come on board who would find the long journeys to the regions’ hospitals too arduous and the waiting times for treatment a real struggle, if not impossible.

In wondering how they can help the charity, which relies solely on donations to keep the service going, Chris has come up with a plan, but admits it might involve a pint or two! “Monday is my “carer’s” day off,” jokes Chris, “I occasionally get a round of golf in, but it’s usually just a couple of pints down the local in the afternoon”.

“However, I am organising a charity golf match to fundraise for Hope for Tomorrow next year – so you see – I am putting that time to good use!”

Chris rushes to add: “Before I go out though, I make sure I’ve made Patricia’s lunch first – she’s always been my priority!”.

…it is very sociable and relaxing on board

Patricia Fuller’s cancer diagnosis came as a bolt out of the blue in August 2022.

“For me it was just my annual blood test” explained Patricia, “then I received a phone call to say that my haemoglobin levels were low and I had to come into hospital”. Follow-up tests and scans revealed that Patricia had bowel cancer and, moreover, that the cancer may have travelled to her lungs. “My husband Chris and I were both utterly shocked,” recalls Patricia, “there were no warning signs, no symptoms at all”.

A bowel operation followed in January 2023 at the William Harvey Hospital in Ashford, a 32-mile round trip from where Patricia, 74, and her husband Chris, 68, live in Folkestone, Kent.

Then, still reeling from the initial diagnosis and in recovery from her operation, Patricia was sent to Guy’s Hospital, London, to explore what was happening in her lungs. She was presented with three stark choices by the consultant: leave it – ‘the cancer is growing very slowly’, a biopsy, or an operation to take away part of her left lung.

Patricia said: “We asked the consultant to advise us, but he explained, ‘the choice has to be yours’”. She chose a biopsy which was carried out in April 2023 which revealed cancer in her left lung, and in July a portion of her lung was taken away.

Patricia continues: “I now have a PICC line that delivers medication into veins near my heart that has to be checked and my chemotherapy infuser bottle has to be removed every 10 days. In July, I was asked if I would like to use the Hope for Tomorrow mobile unit, (affectionately nicknamed ‘Caron’) and I must admit –

having some of my treatment on board, where it’s peaceful, calm and safe has been excellent from every point of view.

Chris says how much easier the Hope for Tomorrow mobile unit has made their lives: “The mobile is brilliant – it parks in the Tesco car park which is literally a two-minute drive from our house. It’s saved us hours of time and money too. My wife knows everyone of course, Pat the nurse, all the NHS nursing staff – and of course Dennis the driver! I always say the only person she doesn’t know is the Pope!”.

Patricia laughs and confesses: “I am chatty, and it is very sociable and relaxing on board. It takes about 15 minutes to remove my infuser and check and clean my PICC line. All the staff and the driver get involved with helping the patients. There’s time for a cup of tea and a catch up – and, unlike the time spent in hospital, the time on board is a pleasant part of my treatment. And that’s an important part of getting better”.

September 2023 marks a halfway point in Patricia’s 12 chemotherapy treatments and consultants say that her lung is clear and progress is looking good, although Patricia’s low immunity means she still has to be very careful.

“Because of the chemotherapy, I suffer from a very painful side effect called cold dysesthesia,” she explains, “so no going near open fridges, or the chilled sections of supermarkets for me, but Chris cares for me so well and does the shopping, cooking – everything that’s needed. We are close to our family too, our two sons, our grandchildren and my three sisters, which is helping us through this time”.

The couple have witnessed how vital the Hope for Tomorrow mobile unit can be, not only for Patricia but for others throughout the East Kent region; having often seen people come on board who would find the long journeys to the regions’ hospitals too arduous and the waiting times for treatment a real struggle, if not impossible.

In wondering how they can help the charity, which relies solely on donations to keep the service going, Chris has come up with a plan, but admits it might involve a pint or two! “Monday is my “carer’s” day off,” jokes Chris, “I occasionally get a round of golf in, but it’s usually just a couple of pints down the local in the afternoon”.

“However, I am organising a charity golf match to fundraise for Hope for Tomorrow next year – so you see – I am putting that time to good use!”

Chris rushes to add: “Before I go out though, I make sure I’ve made Patricia’s lunch first – she’s always been my priority!”.

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