It’s a really comfortable place to go and the driver makes us a cup of tea straightaway
I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2021 during lockdown. I started feeling bloated and was putting on weight, then suddenly one morning I felt a great big mass on the right side of my stomach, which turned out to be a massive tumour.
“I was soon having my first course of chemo, which I had for five hours once a month for six months. Once that finished, I had an operation to remove the tumour, but there were small lesions left which they couldn’t remove as the cancer had already gone through to the stomach. I have been on and off chemo ever since, but my markers are gradually going up. What I have isn’t curable and they are really just keeping me alive and trying to manage it with chemo.”
Marja, who is retired and lives in Tiptree, visits the mobile unit situated at her local Tesco car park which is just half a mile from her house. The journey to hospital takes 20 minutes – it is around 15 miles – but even though she admits it’s not too far, she says “it is a bit of a complicated journey, so my husband always drives me as I wouldn’t be comfortable driving.”
She was a year into her treatment when she found out about the mobile care unit: “I asked the nurse if I could start using that. I didn’t even realise there was such a thing! I also started having blood tests there which is just amazing because I can then just pop in and walk back home. What’s also great is that the same nurses who work at Colchester Hospital also work on the unit; it’s reassuring to see the same friendly familiar faces.”
It is so much more efficient, there’s no time wasted for the patient or for the nurses. I’m very grateful to have access to the service because it helps me in such a great way.
She describes her experience on the unit, where she has been going for the last five months, as being “completely different” to the hospital: “I just walk up there and I know that they’re not going to cancel my appointment. Everything’s ready for me. I can also collect my oral medication from there instead of having to go all the way to the hospital pharmacy.”
She says she is getting to know the other local ladies who visit the unit for their treatment: “It’s very friendly. It’s a really comfortable place to go and the driver makes us a cup of tea straightaway. We’ll have a chat about where we’ve been and what we’ve been doing, it’s really lovely.”
Marja cannot praise the service enough and it is evident what a positive impact it has made on her: “It is absolutely the best thing there is because it makes everything so much easier. Because living with cancer is so stressful anyway. To have that ability to go somewhere where first of all, you don’t have to worry about parking, and then get to know the people who are waiting for you there at the unit, who are ready to treat you personally. You get a lot more individual treatment in that sense. Another thing is that every time you go there, the chemo is there waiting for you. You don’t have to wait and there is no hold up. Sometimes, the pharmacists at the hospital are so busy, they haven’t had time to get your medication ready so you are waiting there even longer, whereas the unit doesn’t leave the hospital in the morning bound for Tescos until they have all the medication onboard for the patients.