Revolution for city’s cancer care

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'Research Chemotherapy Sister Kay Hawker
Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'Research Chemotherapy Sister Kay Hawker
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Ben Spencer spoke to doctors, patients and staff at Weston Park Hospital - and found out how the new £1.3 million cancer research and treatment suite will improve care.

JANE JENKINS: PATIENT

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'David Drabble who fought testicular cancer and now works at Weston Park

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'David Drabble who fought testicular cancer and now works at Weston Park

Just a month ago, in April, school teacher Jane Jenkins received some terrible news.

“I was diagnosed with breast cancer,” said Jane, a mum-of-two from Lodge Moor.

Jane, head of sixth form at King Ecgbert School in Totley, spoke to The Star while hooked up to a line pumping the drug herceptin into her body.

Sitting in Weston Park Hospital’s day case centre, her husband John reading a newspaper in the next chair, she seemed relaxed and at ease.

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'Patient John Wint

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'Patient John Wint

“I feel very positive coming here,” she said. “It doesn’t worry me at all. But I was fit and healthy - and then there was this diagnosis.

“It is a huge change in how you plan how your life is going to be. But Weston Park has been so welcoming.”

The hospital is planning to completely redevelop the day case centre, expanding and modernising, and transforming the large space into a suite of smaller, more flexible rooms.

“I don’t mind having people around me when I’m having treatment, said Jane, “but it would be nice to have the flexibility of having some more privacy.”

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'Patient Jane Jenkins undergoing teatment in  the Day Treatment centre

Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity 'Patient Jane Jenkins undergoing teatment in the Day Treatment centre

John, 61, added: “We were hit by an express train - but couldn’t wish for kinder people and the right advice and answers to our questions. We are so lucky to live in Sheffield with this centre of excellence.”

JOHN WINT: PATIENT

PATIENT John Wint is back in Weston Park for the second time. In 2004 he was successfully treated for bowel cancer at the specialist hospital.

But on March 15 this year, eight years after his last visit, he was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

“The doctors say it’s probably not related,” said John, 65, as he received his first round of chemotherapy since he received his diagnosis.

John, who has retired from insurance firm Eagle Star, in Broomhill, said: “I grew up in Sheffield, in Totley, so I’ve always known what Weston Park is about.

“But when you actually come in through these doors, you realise you are not alone. It’s magical what they provide here. In the general hospitals it is all hectic and rushed. But at Weston Park they are just here to help you.”

John, who lives in Doncaster with his wife Pauline, 53, said: “If I could have captured the ethos of the staff here, and transferred it to my businesses when I was working, I would have done very well.”

KAY HAWKER: NURSE

SISTER Kay Hawker, a research chemotherapy sister at Weston Park’s clinical trials unit, is looking forward to the new cancer research centre to be completed.

“We need more capacity,” said Kay, who works at a tiny unit, which currently has room for just six patients at a time.

“We need more chairs and more beds. We currently can only work from 9am to 5pm, but once we are in the main hospital, alongside the treatment centre, we will be able to work longer.

“A lot of what we do is not just giving treatments - we are screening patients all the time to see the effects of what we are doing.

“We will be able to do tests longer with the new unit. And when we are in the new unit we will be better supported, because the staff on the treatment centre will also be there. The new centre will have 10 chairs and three beds for us, so we will be able to do more tests and more trials.”

DAVID DRABBLE: HOUSEKEEPER

GRANDFATHER David Drabble works on the day case centre at Weston Park, handing out tea and coffee to patients as they receive chemotherapy and other treatments.

But the 64-year-old from Halfway, Sheffield, has not always worked in care.

“I used to be a joiner by trade,” David, a father of two and grandfather of four, told The Star. I did a lot of site work, physical work.”

David changed his life direction after he was struck down by testicular cancer.

“I was treated here at Weston Park - downstairs in the radiotherapy unit,” he said. “I came for a few years and was given the all-clear, and now I’m OK and as fit as I’ve ever been. But I said then that would come back and help.”

David, who is married to Susan, 63, slowed down his joinery work and started volunteering in his spare time, first at the Northern General, and then back at Weston Park where he was treated.

Then, in March, he was taken on as a full-time worker, his wages paid by the Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity.

“I love it here,” he said. “It’s as simple as that. I can have a chat to the patients, because I’ve been there myself and I know what it’s like.”

He added: “The new plan is really good - we need more room. It’s just not big enough at the moment. And there will be more privacy. Some people like to chat when they are here, but others want their own space.”

PROFESSOR ROB COLEMAN: DOCTOR

PROF ROB Coleman, director of the Sheffield Cancer Research Centre, predicts the gains made in drug treatment in the last 25 years will be replicated in just ten years time because of the exciting pace of change and innovation.

He said: “For instance, 15 years ago there were no effective drug treatments for kidney cancer or melanoma, but now there is an increasing range of helpful treatments.

“As another example, 20 years ago breast cancer had a 50 per cent survival rate, it is now 80 per cent survival.

“This is a major advance. Major advances in science mean we now know there are many different types of cancer. It is well recognised that patients in clinical trials are likely to experience a better outcome.”