Cancer support centre to be built at KGH

There are about 24,000 people living with or beyond cancer in Northamptonshire

Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 10:33 am
Updated Wednesday, 5th February 2020, 10:37 am
Elise pictured in front of the courtyard where the new centre is due to be built
Elise pictured in front of the courtyard where the new centre is due to be built

A centre to support people living with cancer, their relatives and carers is set to be built at Kettering General Hospital.

The hospital is working with Macmillan Cancer Support to create the centre, the first in the north of the county, which will be based in a courtyard garden area close to the main reception. It's not yet known how much it would cost to build.

The new centre will provide a range of services in one location including: information on all aspects of cancer, emotional and psychological support, welfare benefits advice and a wig-fitting service, Look Good Feel Better sessions to support people with their physical and emotional wellbeing, a private consultation room for patients who need emotional support following their diagnosis, a meeting room for local support groups to use and display screens showing activities for people affected by cancer running within the centre that day.

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The site of the planned centre.

Macmillan head of nursing for cancer at Kettering General Hospital, Ruth Giles, said: “While we provide information and support around the diagnosis and treatment of cancer we know that often people have a great many more questions that occur to them after their hospital appointments.

“In 2019, the Macmillan Mobile Information Service visited the hospital and the team supported more than 350 patients in a week - so there is very clearly an unmet need for more support.

“This new centre will provide that support and help our patients – and their families – to better understand the condition and help them to deal with the many, often unexpected, difficulties that a cancer diagnosis can bring.”

There are around 24,000 people living with or beyond cancer in Northamptonshire, with about 3,890 new diagnoses every year.

The architects CGI image of the new centre planned for Kettering General Hospital.Photo courtesy of GSS Architecture

Professional photographer Elise Northfield, from Wellingborough, was first diagnosed with cancer of the jaw in 2014 at the age of 40 and then again in 2017, undergoing two major operations and reconstructive surgery.

After her own diagnosis and treatment she volunteered to become coordinator of the Swallow’s Head and Neck Cancer Support Group for Northamptonshire.

Elise said: “I understand the importance accessing support during and after a cancer diagnosis. The physical changes I experienced after my diagnosis affected my mental health - the operation on my jaw and neck significantly changed my appearance. I stopped eating out, I stopped going to social events and I was scared to leave the house. People would, and still do, stare at me. I lost all my confidence.

"I was referred to a Macmillan counsellor, but I had to go to Northampton for this, it would have been beneficial to have it available in Kettering.”

“My husband also struggled with the emotional impact of my cancer diagnosis. After my operation he cared for me at home with absolutely no support or medical training. This took its toll

on him and he took six months off work.”

“I think the new cancer support centre at Kettering will be enormously beneficial to both the hospital and the wider community, especially as it caters for all patients and their support network.

"It cannot be underestimated how much support a person who has had a cancer diagnosis needs to come to terms with, not only their own diagnosis, but the affect that has on their perception of themselves as well as the strain it puts on their loved ones.

“I would have benefited from the centre if it was there when I was diagnosed, and so would my husband. When I was first diagnosed we were led to believe that the counselling support available was for us both as we would both need support, but when I finally asked for support it was only available to me as the patient, not my husband as my carer, so any support that is open to all can only be a good thing.”

In the meantime, if you need cancer support and advice, call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 (seven days a week, 8am to 8pm).

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 will offer a comfortable space where our high-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 so whatever cancer throws your way, we’re right there with you.”