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Gary Cunnington

I’ve been able to relax more

What was supposed to be a simple stroll during lockdown turned out to be the catalyst for Gary’s underlying cancer diagnosis. “I slipped over, jarring my shoulder, and thought I’d done some damage. I went to see a physio, who suspected my symptoms were not related to my fall and advised that I go and see my doctor.” After being referred to a consultant, he was diagnosed with myeloma, a cancer of the bone marrow.

“I had no idea how long I’d had it for; I do remember having trouble serving during tennis sessions. Unbeknown to me at the time, that was all part of it.”

Gary, who’s retired, first discovered the ‘bus’ by “pure chance” while he was having his initial treatment at West Suffolk Hospital in Bury St Edmunds: “I was around 3-4 weeks into my treatment, when one of the nurses happened to mention she’d been in my hometown of Newmarket that morning, on the ‘bus’ as she called it. That was the first I’d heard of it. I found out more and was soon introduced to it first hand; from then on, it’s been an absolute Godsend.”

At that time, having access to the hospital’s mobile cancer care unit named ‘Frisbey’, based at the Tesco Superstore site Newmarket each week, meant he didn’t have to visit Bury. Now his care has resumed under West Suffolk Hospital and he’s on treatment twice weekly, he cites the mobile unit as “even more of a Godsend” as it means he can receive weekly Carfilzomib infusions onboard, only visiting hospital once instead of twice.

He says that his experience of the mobile unit has saved him not just mileage but also time, making an enormous difference to his life and reducing his stress levels: “Having to avoid the notorious A14 to get to Bury means less time stuck in traffic jams, but more fuel – taking the back roads means a round trip would be closer to 35 or 40 miles, instead of 30. This would be doubled if it wasn’t for the mobile unit.”

“It’s always very, very busy in the hospital department, and when I go to the unit the next day, it’s a very personal one-to-one environment which is very low key and easy-going. It’s a totally different experience to being at a hospital appointment, where you don’t know how long you’ll be waiting.

On the unit, it’s pretty much straight on and off again. It’s usually just the same one or two nurses you’ll see on board, and a couple of other patients, so we all get to know each other.”

He’s been surprised at what a difference just saving a few hours makes to his week: “I’ve been able to relax more; I’m going swimming a couple of times a week, as well as seeing people for a general meet-up over coffee. It just makes things that bit easier.”
“I tease people when they ask where I’m having my treatment. I tell them it’s at Tesco – at the end of aisle 6!”.

I tease people when they ask where I’m having my treatment. I tell them it’s at Tesco – at the end of aisle 6!

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