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Friday, 3 May, 2002, 09:42 GMT 10:42 UK
Ex-cancer patient demands better services
Wrexham Maelor Hospital
The 2m cancer unit will open at the Maelor Hospital
A former cancer patient, at the heart of a fund raising appeal, has spoken of the need for a dedicated centre in Wrexham to help people fighting the disease.

Sue Roberts was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2000 and has since gone into remission after receiving chemotherapy.


These patients are being nursed alongside surgical patients who are going to theatre to have their hernias repaired or their toenails taken off

Nurse, Debbie Hughes

An appeal for a specialised 2m cancer unit at Wrexham's Maelor Hospital has now entered its final stage - with around 170,000 left to raise.

Demand for the new unit in north Wales is high.

Welsh Assembly statistics for 1998 revealed the region had the highest incidence of cancer cases among women in Wales.

Figures for the same year showed that seven per cent of women and 3.9% of men in north Wales area had received some form of treatment for cancer.

Between 1995 -1998, the percentage of cancer cases among women increased by an average of 1% in most regions in Wales.

Appeal manager, Julie Hinchliffe
Julie Hinchliffe has 170,000 left to raise

Mrs Roberts - who works for the NHS trust - believes that had the new unit been available when she was undergoing treatment it would have made a tremendous difference.

She said: "The very first treatment I received I was in a very small room and it was a very hot day.

"The chemotherapy nurse was managing in a little room with no window - just a fan going."

Currently chemotherapy patients are treated at the Maelor hospital alongside non-cancer sufferers.

However, Julie Hinchliffe, manager of the Shooting Star Appeal, the organisation behind the fund raising drive for the new unit, hopes all that will change.

"We do already provide the service here for our patients but we'll be able to provide more of it in a better environment," she said.

"It will improve things, if you think statistically that one in three people will get cancer - you think we serve 300,000 people the sums aren't too difficult to do."

The appeal has been running for three years and building work on the new unit is expected to begin by the autumn.


Some people find cancer very frightening, very disconcerting and I wanted to help

Patient, Sue Roberts

There will be an outpatient clinic, counselling facilities, a day ward for chemotherapy and blood transfusions and a designated women's clinic, for patients with or without cancer.

Senior Staff Nurse Debbie Hughes said: "I think the environment will be different, the ward that I am on now is a busy surgical ward.

"These patients are being nursed alongside surgical patients who are going to theatre to have their hernias repaired or their toenails taken off."

Mrs Roberts endured a 70-mile round trip to Glan Clwyd hospital in Bodelwyddan for her radiotherapy.

Around 20m has been spent on the cancer unit there and hopes are high that Wrexham's centre could have a similar look.

"I hope that it's going to be along the lines of the unit that I've been into in Bodelwyddan," said Mrs Roberts.

Senior staff nurse Debbie Hughes
Debbie Hughes works with cancer patients

"I hope that staff there will be specifically dealing with cancer patients themselves, the unit will be a bit more personalised."

Cancer sufferers will not receive radiotherapy at the new centre and will still travel to Glan Clwyd.

Mrs Roberts has campaigned for the Shooting Star Appeal since her diagnosis.

She said: "Some people find cancer very frightening, very disconcerting and I wanted to help.

"You've only got to talk to people and someone, somewhere has got someone who's been touched with cancer.

"This cancer centre is going to be a blessing really and make a big difference."

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 ON THIS STORY
Former cancer patient, Sue Roberts
"Someone, somewhere, has got someone who's been touched by cancer"

More news from north east Wales
See also:

10 Jan 02 | Health
Music therapy for cancer patients
08 Jan 02 | England
Hospital 'hid cancer error'
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