Cancer sufferer calls for unit to stay

A YOUNG family whose lives were turned upside down by cancer have today urged health bosses not to move specialist services out of Ipswich Hospital.Dean Dedman, 36, was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth in March 2004 and underwent extensive surgery and radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital.

A YOUNG family whose lives were turned upside down by cancer have today urged health bosses not to move specialist services out of Ipswich Hospital.

Dean Dedman, 36, was diagnosed with cancer of the mouth in March 2004 and underwent extensive surgery and radiotherapy at Ipswich Hospital.

Under proposals currently being considered by the Mid Anglia Cancer network, a specialist head and neck surgery unit would be created in Chelmsford, meaning people like Mr Dedman would have to travel there for surgery.

Mr Dedman, who lives with his wife, Sarah, and two-year-old son, Harry, in Matson Road, Ipswich, was diagnosed after he developed a large ulcer on the side of his tongue.

Mr Dedman, 26, said: "We were all over the place as it was, without having the pressures of Harry missing his dad.

"If I'd had to stay in Chelmsford it would have made a really difficult time even harder than it needed to be."

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In a complex operation he had almost three-quarters of his tongue removed and recreated using skin and a vein from his wrist.

Skin was then grafted from his stomach on to his wrist and he spent three weeks recovering on the hospital's Shotley Ward.

After this he underwent two weeks of intensive radiotherapy, having three sessions a day.

For nearly six months he was unable to eat and was fed via a tube in his stomach.

Mr Dedman said: "I just don't understand why they need to move it. They've got all the specialists there together in one place, doing really good work. Why change it?

"You get used to the familiar faces when you go in and if you were going to different places for different bits of your treatment it would be a real upheaval."

Mrs Dedman said: "I don't drive and we had to rely on our family to give us lifts to and from the hospital as it was.

"If he'd been in Essex I just wouldn't have been able to get there to see him every day."

Mr Dedman's cancer is in remission but he will not be given the all clear for another five years.

What do you think about the proposed move? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or send us an e-mail to eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

A consultation by the Mid Anglia Cancer Network over the siting of a number of specialist centres has just finished and results are expected to be announced within the next few weeks.

The aim is that by creating a number of specialist cancer centres, resources can be pooled and centres of excellence can be created.

Under the proposals, Ipswich would be the specialist centre for gynaecological cancer, Chelmsford would be the centre for head and neck cancer, and Colchester would be the centre for urological cancer.

Currently, people can have surgery and follow-up treatment for all of these types of cancer at Ipswich but if the new proposals are approved they would have to travel to one of the new centres for complicated surgery – like the kind undergone by Mr Dedman.

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