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Ipswich Hospital’s breast care centre Blossom Appeal raises more than £20,000 in under a month

PUBLISHED: 17:06 22 November 2017 | UPDATED: 17:08 22 November 2017

Staff at Ipswich Hospital celebrate the Blossom Appeal hitting its £20k milestone. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Staff at Ipswich Hospital celebrate the Blossom Appeal hitting its £20k milestone. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Celebrations are underway as a fundraising campaign to build a new breast care centre at Ipswich Hospital hits its first major milestone.

Aly Spicer (left) and Sarah Gill. Picture: GREGG BROWN Aly Spicer (left) and Sarah Gill. Picture: GREGG BROWN

More than £20,000 has been donated to the Blossom Appeal since its launch just under a month ago.

The hospital wants to raise £2.5million towards creating the facility, which would offer a one-stop shop for breast care services.

Breast cancer patients currently have to visit three different locations for treatment and some have told of long waits and cramped facilities.

Head of charity and fundraising at Ipswich Hospital, Mandy Jordan said: “When we launched this appeal we hoped that many individuals, groups of friends, families, schools and businesses would play a part in helping us to fundraise for the new breast care centre.

“During the first few weeks of the appeal the people of Suffolk have shown us fantastic support, raising an amazing £22,000 in just three weeks.

“This is a great first step towards our target of £2.5m and I would like to thank everybody who has contributed so far.”

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

Breast cancer patient referrals have increased by 25% over the past five years at Ipswich Hospital, while nationally the number of people with the disease is expected to rise by a further 2% by 2035, to 210 cases per 100,000 women.

Surgeon Caroline Mortimer, who has spearheaded the Blossom Appeal. Picture: GREGG BROWN Surgeon Caroline Mortimer, who has spearheaded the Blossom Appeal. Picture: GREGG BROWN

The location of the breast care centre and whether it will be a new structure or based within an existing building has yet to be decided.

Nichola Whymark

A Suffolk woman who has undergone breast cancer treatment at Ipswich Hospital has backed the Blossom Appeal, saying patients deserve a more comfortable environment.

Nichola Whymark was first diagnosed with the disease in 2013 and underwent a lumpectomy, chemotherapy and a double mastectomy.

Staff at Ipswich Hospital celebrate the Blossom Appeal hitting its £20k milestone. Picture: GREGG BROWN Staff at Ipswich Hospital celebrate the Blossom Appeal hitting its £20k milestone. Picture: GREGG BROWN

After getting the all clear, fitness fanatic Mrs Whymark committed a huge chunk of her time to fundraising.

She raised nearly £8,000 alongside her brother, running the London Marathon in 2015, before embarking on 40 challenges to complete before her 40th birthday.

However, Mrs Whymark suffered a reoccurrence of her cancer earlier this year and underwent another partial mastectomy and is now recovering.

Since her original diagnosis, Mrs Whymark, who is married to Rich, has been a regular visitor to Ipswich Hospital.

Nichola Whymark on the final event of her 40 challenges. Picture: GREGG BROWN Nichola Whymark on the final event of her 40 challenges. Picture: GREGG BROWN

On her first visit, staff could not fit her in for a biopsy, meaning she had to return to Clinic C a few days later.

“When you are new to this experience, you start to get anxious and the long wait begins playing tricks on you and you convince yourself there is something wrong before you are even told that there is,” said Mrs Whymark, or Martlesham.

“Clinic C is not big enough, there is not enough seating and the interior and furnishings are quite unfriendly.”

It is hoped the new breast care centre will be on a par with the Macmillan Centre on the Woolverstone wing of the hospital, which was opened in May 2016.

“The Woolverstone wing is clinical but it is lovely, modern and bright,” said Mrs Whymark.

“You don’t want a centre that is all singing and dancing, but somewhere where patients can watch TV, read a magazine. Somewhere with phone charger sockets as people can be there for a long time, a place where you do not have to walk too far to get refreshments and risk missing your name being called out.

“There are people going there [the breast centre] with lumps and bumps and others that have been through the mill and when I go back, I see that sheer look of fear in people’s faces that they are going to be told something that isn’t very nice. To at least be told in a nice environment would be brilliant for everyone.”

There are a number of events scheduled to take place in the New Year to raise funds for the Blossom Appeal, which people can get involved with.

They include a London to Paris cycle challenge; a superhero zip-line, which will start at the top of Ipswich Hospital’s maternity building; a sponsored ‘Walk for Wards’; and a Yorkshire three peaks challenge.

Anyone wishing to donate can call 01473 702929 or visit the Blossom Appeal website.

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