Building of Macmillan Cancer Support Centre at Kettering hospital gets under way

Funded by public donations to Macmillan, the centre will support the 24,000 people living with or beyond cancer in Northamptonshire.

By Alison Bagley
Monday, 12th July 2021, 3:40 pm
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 3:40 pm

Construction has started on the brand-new Macmillan Cancer Support Centre at Kettering General Hospital to transform care for people living with cancer in the region.

The centre – the first in north Northamptonshire - will bring a range of vital cancer support services together under one roof.

As well as providing information on all aspects of cancer, emotional and psychological support, the centre will provide welfare benefits advice, wig fitting and signpost to other local services.

Macmillan Partnership Manager for Northamptonshire, Rachel Atkinson,(L) and KGH Macmillan Head of Nursing for Cancer, Ruth Giles, (R), hold a spade to symbolically mark the start of work on the new Macmillan Cancer Support Centre. They are with representatives from Macmillan (Centre Manager, Danielle Mellows) Marshdale Construction ( MD Ben Edgar and Project Manager Peter Howell) GSS Architecture (Architect Andrew Vallis) GSS LLP (Quantity Surveyor Karen O’Connor and Partner Paul Vega) KGH (Leanne Hackshall, Director of Nursing and Quality, Director of Facilities and Estates, Ian Allen, Building Officer, James Conway) and patient representative (Mark Rodwell.)

Funded by public donations to Macmillan, the centre will support the 24,000 people living with or beyond cancer in Northamptonshire.

The ceremonial start to the building was watched by Mark Rodwell from Geddington, a cancer patient who has been living with the disease for two years.

He said: “This new centre will be massively beneficial. It will be so good to have somewhere where people can just drop into, with lots of support in one place and information on every aspect of cancer from side effects to financial support. There was nothing like that when I was diagnosed. It would have been fantastic to have had somewhere on my doorstep and I look forward to visiting the new centre when it opens.”

Mark, 63, was diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago. He had a major operation to remove the tumour followed by five months of chemotherapy. However, as the tumour was situated beside a major artery it couldn’t be completely removed.

How the new centre will look

Having been living with cancer for over two years, Mark understands just how many questions and issues can arise from a cancer diagnosis and consequently the importance of being able to access cancer information and support.

He said: “The cancer has changed my life completely. It has caused severe ongoing bowel problems which means I’m also suffering with sleep deprivation and fatigue and that plays on the emotional side of it too. I feel shattered all the time. I lost my business which I’d built up over 18 years as I kept having to take time off. But I’m a positive and strong person so will not let anything defeat me.”

When Mark was first diagnosed there was no local Macmillan cancer centre nearby, so he had to drive to the centre in Leicester for face to face support or seek advice via email or over the phone. Fortunately, Mark did have the support of a Macmillan nurse.

He said: “My Macmillan nurse Sophie was an absolute godsend. She gave me total support. She had the doctor’s ear and could liaise with the consultants for me. She gave really good care and was always very friendly and professional. She’s really been the crutch that I have depended on. Everyone I have dealt with at Macmillan has been amazing. I did the Hope course too which was very beneficial and sought advice from the Macmillan support line. So I know this new Macmillan Cancer Support Centre will be fantastic!”

Mark Rodwell

The new centre, designed by GSSArchitecture, will be based in a courtyard garden area close to main reception at the main KGH site. It will have a private consultation room for patients who need emotional support following their diagnosis and meeting rooms for local support groups to use.

The centre is due to open at the end of this year but while building work is ongoing, local people affected by cancer can continue to access cancer information and support via the Macmillan online and telephone support service.

Rachel Atkinson, Macmillan partnership manager for Northamptonshire, said: “Cancer can affect every part of your life, not just your health, so it’s vital that we try and support patients with non-clinical needs as well. This brilliant new centre, funded by public donations, will offer a comfortable space where our highly-trained support staff and volunteers can offer people with cancer support for a variety of different needs that come with a cancer diagnosis. We want to help everyone with cancer live life as fully as they can and will do whatever it takes to ensure that happens.”

Macmillan head of nursing for cancer at Kettering General Hospital, Ruth Giles, said: “Hospital staff support patients throughout their cancer pathway but a diagnosis of cancer raises so many issues for people there is a need for more support, information and advice. Macmillan offers this kind of support which is why we are so delighted to be collaborating with them on the creation of the new centre on the KGH site”.

“People with cancer really benefit from the kind of wrap-around care and support that Macmillan provides and it complements the clinical care provided by hospitals. This centre will help our patients – and their families and carers – to better understand the condition and help them to deal with the many, and often unexpected, difficulties that a cancer diagnosis can bring.”

Andrew Vallis, architect leading the project from GSSArchitecture, said: “I’m proud to be working on such an interesting and important project to benefit the people of Kettering, building upon GSSArchitecture’s long history with the hospital which dates back over 100 years.”

If you have questions about cancer or would like to speak to Danielle at the Macmillan Cancer Support Service in Kettering, you can contact her on 07813 363539 or [email protected]