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Southend University Hospital’s Macmillan Centre celebrates its first anniversary

18 March 2015

Health Care

Tuesday 17 March 2015 marked the first anniversary of the Macmillan Information & Support Centre at Southend University Hospital.

Service users, volunteers and hospital staff attended a celebratory party at the centre which has helped almost 7,000 people in its first year since opening to the public in March 2014.

Amongst the guests was Janet Egelton from Hockley, who admits she couldn't have got through her cancer treatment without the help of the centre: "I was diagnosed with breast cancer last year and I managed for a couple of months on my own and then I felt the treatment wasn't going as good as it could do and I was getting frightened about the upcoming chemo.  It was just the unknown really.  I couldn't have got through it without the help of the Macmillan Centre. They are always here and I visit at least once a week just for a chat whether I'm feeling good or bad. It's just nice to talk to someone who understands - not just the staff and volunteers but other people going through the same thing as me."

The £650,000 purpose-built centre, jointly funded by Macmillan and Southend Hospital Charity, includes a private quiet room where patients and/or families can relax and talk to healthcare professionals, a health and wellbeing room, a relaxing courtyard and a large activity room for health and wellbeing clinics, support group meetings, cancer awareness events and more.

Overseeing the management of the centre and the celebrations is Macmillan Centre manager, Friederike (Fred) Englund, who is delighted with how the first year has gone: "We've been able to help almost 7,000 people in our first year. This proves the importance of the centre and that it is very much needed. I am very privileged to be working with a very dedicated, creative and hardworking team of two nurses and 28 volunteers."

Also celebrating on the day was Una Melbourne from Southend-on-Sea who was initially in denial about needing any help: "I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer and had an operation in May. When Macmillan nurses first offered their help I had the attitude of 'I'm too strong for that, I don't need any help'. But a few months later, going through the chemo I met with those same nurses and thought perhaps I do need some help after all.  I ended up doing a Hope course here at the centre and it was fantastic. Staff in the centre are always available to talk to about your fears, good or bad days, it doesn't matter, they are always happy to see you and support you in every way." 

The centre wouldn't be able to operate as effectively without the help of the 28 volunteers and one volunteer, Roger Bassett, has been involved right from the start, from getting the building made to supporting many visitors since it opened a year ago: "The centre has made an enormous difference to the people coming in here, said Roger. "It's great to see so many patients at today's anniversary celebrations as it shows they appreciate what we've done. It shows we are helping and it really justifies the expense of creating the centre. We want to expand on our activities and already have a lot more things on the go like talks on radiotherapy, coffee mornings, look good feel better sessions, the wig service. We just want to build on that and provide as many services as we can."

IMAGE:  Janet Egelton (Service user), Roger Bassett (volunteer), Una Melbourne (service user).