Ipswich Hospital launches £2.5m Blossom Appeal for breast cancer care centre
- Credit: Archant
Ipswich Hospital is today launching an ambitious campaign to raise £2.5 million towards the creation of a dedicated breast cancer care centre.
The Blossom Appeal has been spearheaded by one of the hospital’s consultant breast cancer surgeons, Caroline Mortimer.
Patient referrals have increased by 25% over the past five years at Ipswich Hospital, while nationally the number of people with breast cancer is expected to rise by a further 2% by 2035, to 210 cases per 100,000 women.
Where patients currently have to visit three separate locations for breast cancer care at the hospital, the new centre would offer everything under one
roof and in turn reduce waiting times for those receiving treatment.
“Our appeal is fundamentally about creating enough space to be able to run clinics for dedicated groups of patients. This will increase efficiency and make
the experience for our patients more personalised and less anxiety-provoking,” said Miss Mortimer.
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“If patients sit in clinic and wait for a couple of hours to be seen, understandably they will get more and more worried. But if we have dedicated clinics we will be able to keep to time and won’t keep our patients waiting and that will be far better, not least if they are waiting for results.
“A new centre would make such a difference to patients’ lives. It would give them a gold standard service. They already get gold standard treatment but not the gold standard service.”
The location of the facility
and whether it will be a new structure or based within an existing building has yet to be decided.
As well as more room for carers and loved ones, the fresh centre will also provide dedicated clinics for men and young people battling the disease. If the dream is brought to life, Miss Mortimer hopes to launch drop-in services for patients in recovery, as well as social activities such as coffee mornings.
Head of charity and fundraising at Ipswich Hospital, Mandy Jordan, said: “We can’t do this without the support of the local community. We need everyone to get involved and support the breast team.”
Ipswich Hospital has previously fundraised £4.7m to build the Woolverstone Macmillan cancer centre which opened in 2016.
To donate, visit: www.ipswichhospitalcharity.co.uk/blossom
A breast cancer survivor has praised the care she received at Ipswich Hospital but labelled the facilities “impersonal”.
Jo Whitelaw, from Great Blakenham, was diagnosed with the disease in 2012 after discovering a lump in her breast.
When the lump was removed, cancer cells were still found so Mrs Whitelaw went on to have her breast removed and gruelling chemotherapy and drug treatment.
The 55-year-old had breast reconstruction and a nipple tattoo and over two years she visited Ipswich Hospital many times.
She said: “It’s a very open and impersonal space. I remember when I first went to hospital I sat there and looked at all the people in the waiting room and felt very alone. The new centre could be more personal, but then there would be opportunities and spaces to talk if people wanted to.”
Mrs Whitelaw has now been clear of cancer for five years.
A 72-year-old man has said he didn’t know breast cancer could exist in men until he was diagnosed with the disease in 2005.
René D’Arachy, from Hintlesham, was cared for by Ipswich Hospital’s consultant surgeon Caroline Mortimer.
He said: “I’ll never forget the conversation with her. I had breast cancer. I was a man. I wasn’t going to have chemotherapy. I was going to have my breast taken away.
“Often I was the only man in the waiting room at hospital. One or two women did look, but they didn’t stare. As I’ve learnt, cancer doesn’t care who you are or what sex you are. The nurses and doctors do their utmost. You couldn’t go to Harley Street and pay for better treatment, but they do need a better environment.”
Mr D’Arachy was given the all clear after an operation and drug treatment. Devastatingly, he found out this summer his cancer had returned and he is taking part in drugs trial which he hopes will save his life.
A mother-of-two who has undergone a preventive double mastectomy at Ipswich Hospital is backing the Blossom Appeal.
Sarina Sargeant, of Martlesham, has a prolific family history of breast cancer and she made the decision to have surgery after a genetic test showed ‘anomalies’.
The 38-year-old has experienced breast care at Ipswich Hospital twice, once for her and the other with her mother, who died aged 44.
“It was very crowded at times,” Mrs Sargeant said. “Sometimes you had to stand in the waiting room.
“It was difficult being a working mum when the clinic had to be shared with other specialities. They can only have breast clinics on certain days of the week and sometimes I couldn’t make the clinics.
“The staff were amazing but they don’t have the best facilities to work in. A new centre, somewhere that feels less clinical, would definitely make it easier for patients.”