I was then referred to the mobile care unit, which is based in Louth, just seven miles away from where I live
“In December 2018, I was told I had breast cancer. It was quite aggressive, and I was also 26 weeks pregnant. It was a very, very frightening time,” recalls 44-year-old Charlotte.
After undergoing a full mastectomy, Charlotte gave birth to her son Charlie six weeks early by C-section, before embarking on cancer treatment less than a week later while still in Lincoln Hospital.
Following radiotherapy, she continued her treatment plan at home via community nursing where she was put on a course of Herceptin. She underwent 18 sessions over the next 12 months. After being given the all clear, just four months later she discovered she had secondary breast cancer.
Charlotte explains: “As this was during COVID, there was a lot of travelling to both Lincoln and Grantham hospitals for more treatment as Grantham was a green site. I was then referred to the mobile care unit, which is based in Louth, just seven miles away from where I live.”
Every three weeks, Charlotte visits the unit to have Kadcyla, her chemo infusion, which she refers to as her ‘maintenance treatment’ as there is no cure for her.
Launched in April 2014 by Phil Anyon, a senior member of the Mark Masons, the unit is named Elaine in memory of his wife who passed away from cancer. Delivering 3,278 treatments last year, it has been replaced by a new, upgraded unit which went into service in February 2023.
“If I was having the treatment at Lincoln Hospital, it’s an hour’s drive away. There are a lot of people much worse off than me and I’m just so grateful for the treatment so I’m not complaining, but the whole trip would take the best part of a day.”
It’s great as now it’s just on the mobile unit which is just 10 minutes away – I’m usually in and out within the hour.
She reflects on the difference the unit has made to her life: “I used to drop my son off to nursery enroute to the hospital, and my husband Paul would have to take time out of work to drive me and wait around. One time, we waited nine hours to be seen, although that was a unique situation. Now I’m able to get myself to the unit and back as it’s closer.”
This has saved Charlotte precious time that she puts to good use: “Just before my next round of treatment is when I have the most energy as it’s the end of the cycle. In the morning prior to my appointment, I drop my son off and then come home and use that extra time to get everything done that needs to be done. I can cook a nice family dinner whereas before it was just a freezer meal! When I return from treatment, I know I have the rest of the day and the day after to just relax as the chemo wipes me out. Before now, I’ve tried to carry on and ended up putting myself in hospital because I’ve overdone it. It just gives me crucial recovery time.”
Before becoming ill and having Charlie, Charlotte was a fervent fundraiser and regularly took part in events to raise money for various charities. Along with Paul, she’s now geared up for a 120-mile bike challenge with 13 others, in aid of Hope for Tomorrow and Cancer Research. The three-day journey will start in the Peak District on the 18th August, in the aptly named village of Hope, then a stop-off in Matlock, before coming to an end in their home village of South Reston.
“I’ve treated myself to an e-bike because these days, I need the assistance! The charity ride is my opportunity to give back, as Hope for Tomorrow has given me so much.”
In August 2023, Charlotte completed the 128-mile bike ride on her e-bike alongside 15 other riders. Of her experience, Charlotte said, the lengthy ride was “very tough in places. We certainly had some BIG, BIG hills to cycle up and some very rocky tracks to cycle across, but the views were so rewarding, as was the sense of achievement when we’d got to the end of the challenging tracks”.
In some places, it was too tough to cycle up, which meant that Charlotte had to go on foot and carry the bike – not an easy thing to do with a heavy e-bike!
Together, Charlotte and the other “Waggon Wheelers” raised an impressive £758 + Gift Aid via their Just Giving page for Hope for Tomorrow, supporting mobile cancer care so that more patients can continue to receive their care closer to where they need it – just like Charlotte.