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Joe Sloneczny

The mobile unit means there is just one less thing for patients to have to worry about. Even if it just makes the smallest difference to one person it is totally worth it.

Charge nurse Joseph Sloneczny was working in the oncology and haematology department at Salisbury Hospital when he was asked to cover for a member of staff on the mobile cancer care unit. So, when a permanent vacancy arose to work on the unit full-time, he says he didn’t have to think twice.

I really enjoyed that time I spent on the unit. I loved the atmosphere, and I went home every night thinking to myself what a privilege it was to be able to offer such a service to people who are going through such a difficult time in their lives.

Having been a nurse since 2013, and a chemo nurse since 2015, Joe knows that some days can be tougher than others for both patients and staff.

“There’s no doubt that by its very nature, dealing with people whose lives have been turned upside down by cancer, there are going to be challenging times.

“But there are also lots of highs, often when you least expect it,” he says.

“Because the mobile unit creates such an intimate environment, it’s easy to quickly build up a rapport with each other.

“When you are dealing with someone who has had nearly 100 treatments over several years, you get to know quite a lot about their life.

“And as in any familiar relationship, you can find yourself laughing in the most inappropriate situations. The bus encourages that as it’s a safe, gentle, easy environment where people feel relaxed, and that can only really be good for their general well-being.”

Joe believes it is just as important to be a friend as well as a nurse to the patients.

I love it when I see patients making friendships and forming relationships both with each other and with the staff.
It’s a real family, friendly environment.

Based at Salisbury District Hospital, the mobile unit, Kayleigh, named in memory of a young woman from Chippenham who passed away with cancer, takes in a vast area around Wiltshire, Hampshire, and Dorset. Each week it visits Fordingbridge, Gillingham and Westbury.

“Its such a wide area, if people from around this area had to travel to the hospital all the time it would be a real mission in time and energy,” says Joe.

And he adds: “I feel so privileged to be part of something that is helping to make life just a little bit more tolerable for people.

“So many patients say how relieved they are not to have to add a long journey on top of their treatment.

“I know of one patient who was having to have a haematology treatment every week but also needed blood tests two days prior that.

“They were having to do a 60-mile round trip each time and now they can pop into the unit on a Wednesday, get their bloods done in a couple of minutes, and come back in for the treatment when we are back in Gillingham again on the Friday,” says Joe.

He also cites another patient who had previously been clocking up around 140 miles in the car for their treatment. Joe says: “That is a big consideration because apart from the stress, there’s also the financial cost and in the winter when the roads are icy and the days are short, it’s not really what you want to be doing at either end of your chemotherapy.


“The mobile unit means there is just one less thing for patients to have to worry about. Even if it just makes the smallest difference to one person it is totally worth it.

“Both the patients and the staff are so grateful that we have such a great charity as Hope for Tomorrow that makes all this possible.”

Although there are four spaces on the Kayleigh unit, Joe says he and the team try not to say ‘no’ to anyone.

“If that makes our day longer that’s ok if we can help those who need our services. It doesn’t matter if we are doing a long treatment or a short one, they are all equally important,” he says.

For Joe, working on the mobile unit gives him 100 per cent job satisfaction. He says: “I never resent going into work. It never feels like a chore or somewhere I don’t want to be. I love it and I think it is a lovely thing to be able to do for people.

“I absolutely love working on the unit. I feel so lucky as a nurse to be a part of this. I wouldn’t change it for the world.”

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