Hope for Tomorrow has come to the rescue again!
“I was diagnosed with breast cancer in May 2013 after it was picked up in a routine mammogram. I was lucky because it wasn’t advanced, it was quite small. I had a lumpectomy then I was referred to Oncology at Cheltenham General Hospital for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
I had six rounds of chemotherapy, with the first three at Cheltenham. It would take anywhere up to an hour each way to get there, depending on traffic and time of day. I had a free pass to park in the oncology spaces, so if I went in the morning, I was able to park there, otherwise if it was later, I had to park in another car park and pay. The oncology department itself was very, very busy. I had some lengthy waits for treatment, as they sometimes had a backlog. On these occasions I went to the local Maggie’s Centre to while away a few hours until the hospital called me to say they were ready for me. It could take all day.
The second three rounds of treatment involved a different type of drug and I was able to have this on the Hope for Tomorrow mobile cancer care unit, right outside Stroud General Hospital, about 10 minutes away from where I lived. I heard about the possibility of having the treatment on the unit from the Oncology team. This made a huge difference
Following chemotherapy, I had a course of 18 Herceptin injections every three weeks on the unit over the course of a year, by which time I had returned to work in May 2014. I worked in Gloucester, so I’d swing by the unit at Stroud hospital on my way in and then go onwards to work. If I’d had my treatment in Cheltenham, the total journey would have been nearly 30 miles. So again, I was massively grateful to have access to the unit instead, saving me time and mileage.
The mobile unit is a very, very friendly environment, it’s much more personalised. The main benefit for me was the reduced travel time, as well as almost no waiting time.
I’m no longer receiving treatment on the unit, but am on oral treatment for peritoneal tumours, which are related to a gastrointestinal stromal tumour diagnosed in 2017, unrelated to breast cancer. Fortunately, Hope for Tomorrow has come to the rescue again! I can collect my tablets from the mobile unit in Stroud rather than driving to Cheltenham to pick them up.
Strangely enough, it’s always on a Thursday and that’s when I volunteer at Hope for Tomorrow. I wanted to give something back so I go in to the office one morning a week.
I retired at 70, almost two years ago now. I had a year of doing what I wanted before deciding I would like to do some volunteering, but I wasn’t quite sure what. I’d read that Hope for Tomorrow had recently moved its HQ to Stonehouse, where I live. An admin job came up, so I applied and now here I am!
There’s always lots to do – I’ve been helping the team to promote and identify potential sites for clothes recycling banks, transcribing video footage and contacting people on our volunteer database to help. As a charity, we fully rely on others volunteering as well as fundraising – without which it would not be possible to operate or exist.
It’s truly a great team to work with. I do enjoy going in and it means a lot to me to give my time to them.”