Peter, who is 64 and now retired, reflects on when he was first diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2019: “I had a major operation and was then put on a course GemCap (a combination of gemcitabine and capecitabine). Because this consisted of a tablet once a day for three weeks and an infusion once a week for three weeks, they were able to put me on to the mobile unit at Stroud for most of that treatment, with the occasional visit to Cheltenham General Hospital.”
This made life easier for him, the unit being 10 minutes away from home meaning his two-hour round trip to the hospital was cut by more than 90%.
He was referred to the unit early on by his oncologist Dr Elyan, who is also chair of Hope for Tomorrow. “After the first two of six cycles of chemo at Cheltenham, it was arranged for me to continue the course on the unit.”
Peter successfully completed his treatment, and life resumed as much as normal. “Then at the beginning of 2023, we went to New Zealand thinking that the cancer was behaving itself and it wasn’t.”
He had to have another major operation while in New Zealand to remove a section of his bowel which “the cancer had wrapped itself around”.
He returned to the UK to face another round of GemCap, which meant Peter was able to make use of the unit again. He is now coming to the end of his second cycle before he is reviewed, but he finds using the unit a positive experience, because “First of all, it’s not a hospital – in my experience they’re not the nicest places. The unit is bright and modern, there are only four chairs and it has a more relaxed atmosphere. Obviously, if you go on the ward at Cheltenham, the staff are very good, but they’re dealing with 40-50 people at a time; whereas on the unit, obviously, it’s much smaller and less frenetic.”
It’s this more personal sense he experiences on the unit that also helps with patients forming bonds and feeling more assured, something which might not otherwise happen in a busy hospital waiting room. He recalls when he attended the unit for the first time. “I remember there was another chap who also had pancreatic cancer. Sadly for him, he had to have chemotherapy before the major operation. I hope and I think from what he said to me that it was useful for him to know what the operation was like, and to know that actually there were good outcomes from it. That particularly sticks in my mind as a benefit for somebody else.”
Attending the unit has also saved him time. “I know that it’s only going to take probably an hour and a half out of my day whereas going to Cheltenham would take out a morning or afternoon. You’re able to get on with other things. Although I always rest when I have had the treatment, it means that I don’t feel knocked out for a day which is what would have happened if I had gone to Cheltenham.”
He likes to donate to the charity when he can, because he thinks “it’s a great service and I think it’s an admirable vision. I also try and keep up with what the charity is doing. It’s doing excellent work and I suspect it’s helping keep people out of hospitals which is probably a good thing!”
Unfortunately, since his story was shared with us, we have learned of Peter’s passing. We are very sorry to hear this incredibly sad news and offer our heartfelt condolences to his loved ones.