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Breast cancer survivor turned author Katherine Simpson-Jacobs backs Ipswich Hospital’s Blossom Appeal

PUBLISHED: 13:55 27 October 2017 | UPDATED: 15:45 27 October 2017

Launch of the Blossom Appeal at Ipswich Hospital.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Launch of the Blossom Appeal at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

A breast cancer survivor who has written a book about how to break the devastating news of a diagnosis to young children is backing Ipswich Hospital’s Blossom Appeal.

Katherine Simpson-Jacobs at the launch of The Blossom Appeal at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PAGEPIX Katherine Simpson-Jacobs at the launch of The Blossom Appeal at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: PAGEPIX

Katherine Simpson-Jacobs attended the launch today of the trust’s new campaign, which is aiming to raise £2.5 million towards the creation of a dedicated breast cancer care centre.

The 45-year-old, who teaches English and is assistant head of sixth form at St Joseph’s College in Ipswich, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013 and has now been in remission in four years after receiving treatment at Ipswich Hospital.

She said: “The care that you get here is fantastic but the facilities could do with improvement.

“Waiting in a hospital is a really soul-destroyed experience and just the whole process can be made more slick.

“I think it will reduce people’s anxiety hugely and I think the facilities will match the level of care and expertise that are here.

“The breast care nurses here are phenomenal - amazing people.”

When Mrs Simpson-Jacobs was diagnosed with the disease, her children were aged just six and four, and she found there was no guidance available for the best way to tell them.

While she was off work and receiving care, Mrs Simpson-Jacobs decided to pen a book called What We Did When Mummy Got Cancer, which parents battling the illness can read with their little ones.

Caroline Mortimer, who spearheaded The Blossom Appeal.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Caroline Mortimer, who spearheaded The Blossom Appeal. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

“It was really nice to have something to focus on,” Mrs Simpson-Jacobs said. “I had to take a term off work to go through treatment, which is quite a lonely experience and it was good to feel like I was doing something useful because you feel quite out of control. You are in a system when you get a diagnosis so it was nice to be able to create something positive out of a negative experience.”

The book was read and approved by the breast care team at Ipswich Hospital before it was published in February 2016.

Mrs Simpson-Jacobs, who lives in Ipswich with her husband Richard, 44, and daughters, Anna, 11, and eight-year-old Sofie, added: “It’s hopefully helping people who need to have that horrible experience.”

The Blossom Appeal launch coincided with a baking contest at Ipswich Hospital.

Lisa Nobes, Ipswich Hospital's director of nursing, speaking at the launch of The Blossom Appeal. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Lisa Nobes, Ipswich Hospital's director of nursing, speaking at the launch of The Blossom Appeal. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

The campaign has been spearheaded by breast cancer surgeon Caroline Mortimer, who has wanted to pursue this ambition since starting at Ipswich Hospital 19 years ago.

Miss Mortimer said to see the centre being built would be “a dream come true”.

She added: “It will mean that we will be able to have a fabulous patient experience at a clinic and the staff will be able to function far better and all be together.”

Ipswich is one of the only hospitals in the country without a breast cancer care unit, Miss Mortimer said.

Some of the cakes on sale at the launch of The Blossom Appeal at Ipswich Hospital.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN Some of the cakes on sale at the launch of The Blossom Appeal at Ipswich Hospital. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

When asked if she believed the NHS should fund the venture, Miss Mortimer said: “The problem is we run a fantastic service and we meet all our targets so there’s no reason for the NHS to dip into its pocket and fix a problem, so this is why it’s being fundraised rather than coming out of capital budgets.”

To donate, see here.

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