Everyone should know about them… I’m already doing my bit to make sure they do
“Nobody would believe me when I said I was receiving my treatments on a bus”, laughs Linda, “let alone that one of them is also called ‘Linda’! I had to take a photo and send it to all my family and friends!”
Linda Musgrave, 76, moved to the small village of Burley in Wharfedale near Ilkley in late 2022 after losing her husband who suffered with multiple health problems as a result of COPD. “We’d wanted to make the move from Huddersfield eight years before, to help our youngest daughter, Cathy with childcare”, she explained, “but David was told he only had a few months to live, and he wanted to remain close to his friends”.
Incredibly, David survived almost another six years and passed away at home as he’d wished.
“His last words to me were: “You will move won’t you? That’s what we planned to do together and I want you to go””.
However, in November 2022, soon after Linda ‘started her new life’ she discovered she had breast cancer. “I was utterly shocked”, she recalls, “David and I were shielding throughout Covid – he was so ill – so I missed some mammograms that might have picked it up earlier.”
Fortunately though, after diagnosis, the NHS moved quickly into gear, and in December, Linda had a mastectomy of her right breast and had her lymph nodes removed.
“I’ve witnessed the NHS at its finest”, states Linda, “from diagnosis to treatment, it was seamless”. She added that the strong support and kindness from her niece Jemma, who’s also recovering from cancer, as well as Linda and David’s children, who she describes as ‘very close’, has been hugely helpful to her recovery.
The charity Hope for Tomorrow provides two mobile cancer units or ‘buses’ in Yorkshire. These ‘buses’ are fondly nicknamed ‘Christine’ and ‘Linda’, and in March 2023, Linda Musgrave had her first taste of treatment on board.
“The buses are absolutely fantastic”, enthused Linda, “I was able to have my three sessions of EC chemotherapy, then my 12 weekly sessions of Paclitaxel chemo on board the bus called ‘Christine’ as well as my PIC line flushes and blood tests on ‘Linda’.
‘Linda’, parks in the car park at Booths supermarket in Ilkley, only a ten-minute drive in the car for Linda Musgrave. ‘Christine’ is further away, but as she highlights: “The staff are always ready for me on the buses – there’s no waiting at all.
It’s been a rocky road to recovery for Linda as bouts of illness, including shingles and a chest infection, meant she was put on antivirals and advised to isolate completely. For Linda ‘it felt like the Covid lockdown all over again’, but added, “That’s another reason the buses are so great. I only left the house for my treatments, so the human contact in a safe environment was a lifeline”.
Finally in August, Linda finished chemotherapy and self-isolating and decided to have a much-needed holiday visiting family in Guernsey. “It was lovely, but, would you believe it, my daughter and I caught Covid!”. Fortunately, Covid no longer delays treatment and Linda was able to start the next stage of her treatment, five radiotherapy sessions in St James’s Hospital, Leeds, which finished this September.
“I’m absolutely exhausted, I can hardly put one foot in front of the other. It has affected my sight too. It is frustrating because I can’t drive or walk very far. I’m so lucky to have my youngest daughter Cathy and granddaughter close by to help”.
Linda is now on hormone therapy, a treatment she will probably be on for life, as well as bone infusions, which will be delivered on the unit in Ilkley.
“I had never heard of the buses before this March, and yet I understand they did 3,500 treatments on board ‘Christine’ last year. That’s extraordinary. They would never have been able to carry out all those treatments in the hospital.
Everyone should have access to this. They’re a wonderful idea.
Linda continued: “It is so spotlessly clean and one of the things I really love on ‘Linda’, is the decorated, lit roof panel. You can sit back and relax in the chair and look upwards and see this blue sky with white clouds and the Hope rainbow. It’s so lovely!”.
Linda describes herself as feeling ‘a little bit better every day’ and firmly believes that a positive frame of mind, enables a person to heal better. “I am very confident that I am going to be in remission when I see the consultant in October, and if not, I will continue to live my life to the full”.
Meanwhile, she intends to keep raising awareness about the Hope for Tomorrow units and the ‘magnificent’ treatment available locally both on board and off. “Everyone should know about them”, Linda concludes, “And I’m already doing my bit to make sure they do!”