WHEN the Mary Baron chemotherapy suite moved to the Colchester General Hospital site about four years ago, it had 15 treatment chairs and two beds.

Today, it still has 15 treatment chairs and two beds.

The move of the chemotherapy suite from Essex County Hospital to Turner Road was unfortunately not to make more space. It was simply to have it on the same site as radiotherapy - albeit still a long walk away.

Vanessa Bradbury, ward sister on the Mary Barron suite, said she has worked in chemotherapy for about 16 years and there has been no room to grow.

“Numbers are escalating all the time,” she said. “It’s a temporary building so it was not a purpose built unit.

“What we have been longing for is to get a unit fit for our patients needs. There is not enough room for our patients for confidential conversations, there’s just a curtain to pull around them.

“We don’t have the luxury of a nice quiet room for them and it is very cramped.”

The haematology day lounge,which also treats cancer patients, has eight treatment chairs. Some patients can be sitting in them for up to eight hours.

The new cancer centre will provide 32 chairs between chemotherapy and haematology, as well as a three-bed bay.

Vanessa said: “At the moment patients don’t have that privacy, it’s essential they have a relaxed environment.

“Patients are always so grateful but one thing they comment on is how they don’t have the space they need.

“We have nowhere to take them if they or their families are upset.

The new suite will have a relative and patients quiet room.”

She said she could not put into words how much of a difference the new cancer centre will make.

She said: “The fundraisers have just been wonderful, we are so grateful and we are almost there.”

Cancer survivor Mary Parfitt was one of the patients at the Mary Baron suite. She has raised thousands of pounds to say thank you to staff and help them get the facilities future patients need.

Mary, from Tiptree, underwent a mastectomy as well as chemotherapy and radiotherapy after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

She said: “There are a lot of cancers which are very complicated, but the staff are amazing.

They are a fantastic group of people.

“I understand there are some people in palliative care who are next to people like me in recovery, and they would like to be treated separately.

“There’s going to be more room for people to sit with their loved ones and it will actually be a permanent building.

“When I finished my treatment in 2014 I opened the Gazette and saw an article about Dr Mukesh who treated me. It was about the launch of the Cancer Centre Campaign.

“I was so grateful to him and I just wanted to do something in return.”

Mary started out with a small target but has now hit more than £10,000 by hosting various fundraising events.

She said: “One in two of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some time in our lives.

“I didn’t think it would happen to me but it did.

“I just wanted to give something back to help others but didn’t know how until I saw an article in the Gazette which featured my oncologist.

“On reading the article I then made the decision to start selling Avon again, not for myself but for this charity.”

"Thank you for taking good care of us"


IT was for personal reasons the Hunnaball family started raising money for a new cancer centre.

Trevor Hunnaball, of Hunnaball Funeral Directors, fought cancer, but thanks to the hard work of staff at Colchester General Hospital he is in full remission.

To highlight the fantastic efforts of staff, the Hunnaball family pledged to raise £10,000 for the new cancer centre, and have managed to smash their target with a running total of £10,489.

His wife, Melanie, said it was thanks to a number of successful community events including a car wash, curry lunch and pizza and Prosecco days.

She said: “Last year was a landmark year in which Trevor celebrated his 75th birthday, and 60 years working as a funeral director.

“Cancer a heavy thing for anyone to contemplate but we feel the fundraising has been successful and fun.

“Because Trevor received such amazing care it was primarily for personal reasons that we started fundraising but what we did was try to engage with staff, family and friends.”

She said they were fortunate to have received so much support and have been spreading their small fundraisers across the year to raise as much money as possible.

The Hunnaball family visited the radiotherapy department at the hospital recently, and Melanie said she was amazed.

She said: “It was overwhelming to see such a fantastic facility.

Cancer is something which touches everyone and in our profession it can seem like an epidemic.

“Trevor was very ill indeed but he is in full remission and would not be celebrating his 75th birthday if it was not for the hospital team.”


WHEN Lois Holder was receiving treatment for anal cancer, the one thing which played on her mind was the lack of entertainment for her children.

She was at the radiotherapy centre on a daily basis, from October 2013 until February 2014, when her daughters Tallulah and Lottie were only one and threeyears-old at the time.

It was a tough time but she survived and once she was given the all clear, she determined to focus on fundraising to buy toys and other entertainment for patients’ children.

Lois, 43, said: “We were in the old radiotherapy department and there was always queues and delays. There was nothing for the children to do.

“My main driver was to help parents who may not have that support network and need to take their children with them.

“It was a depressing place and you were there for at least two hours a day. I didn’t think it was right as it is stressful for children when their parents aren’t well.”

As well as buying equipment for children, she gave about £3,000 from holding a fundraising ball to start up a taxi fund.

The fund was to help people get home without having to wait hours for hospital transport.

Lois said: “It was just heartbreaking seeing people feeling tired and awful waiting hours for transport.”

She also gave the Colchester Hospitals Charity another £7,000 from the fundraising ball.

She said the thing she wanted to see most at the new centre was a focus on aftercare.

She added: “I think my husband, David, and I had our biggest wobble after therapy as you get used to feeling protected.

“You are so focused on staying alive but afterwards there is not much support.

“David never had anyone to talk to. It’s quite something to have to deal with your wife and children.

Any kind of aftercare would be welcome.”