Whaley Bridge nurse and cancer survivor urges people to back campaign for £26m clinic serving High Peak
A nurse from Whaley Bridge who underwent treatment for breast cancer at Manchester’s Christie Hospital is appealing to High Peak residents to support a fundraising campaign for its sister charity’s new £26million cancer centre in Macclesfield.
Mum of four Annie Diamond, 55, and her family have been involved in fundraising ever since she was first diagnosed seven years ago, and son Ed, 18, will taken on his biggest challenge yet later this year.
Annie said: “Anything that reduces the stress of a cancer diagnosis and its impact for the person themselves and their families helps enormously. Having the Christie at Macclesfield will make a big difference.
“Some people don’t drive and many patients rely on friends and relatives to drive them all the way to Withington for treatment, often on a daily basis for weeks at a time for radiotherapy. For people living with cancer in the High Peak The Christie at Macclesfield will be much more convenient, making their experience a little easier.”
After discovering a small lump in December 2013, Annie’s first move was to see her GP.
Reflecting back on that time she said: “The diagnosis was a shock, but I would encourage anyone finding any unusual changes in their breast to seek advice straight away from their doctor.”
Her breast cancer was HER2 positive and hormone receptive, so following initial surgery to remove the lump, she was treated with Herceptin with other chemotherapy medication, followed by a mastectomy in 2014, reconstructive surgery in 2015, and then longer term medication to minimise the risk of recurrence.
Annie said: “The understanding and support initially from the GP, and subsequently from the consultants and nurses at the Christie, amongst others, helped immensely.
“The clinical staff at the Christie were exceptional – reassuring, caring and knowledgeable, but staff and volunteers in every service were respectful and kind, particularly those in the wig room and information centre.”
Now working for Public Health England, Annie has also become involved in various patient forums and local groups to help improve the experience of other patients.
She is currently involved in the South Manchester Breast Cancer Support Group and is a service user representative for a cancer programme for Greater Manchester and East Cheshire, covering everything from prevention, early diagnosis and treatment to living with and beyond cancer and end of life care.
She said: “Being involved in Greater Manchester Cancer offers the chance to provide a patient, family or carer’s perspective, and has been very rewarding.”
But the desire to give something back extends to the whole Diamond family, who were so grateful for the care Annie received that they have raised thousands of pounds for the Christie.
While she was recovering from surgery, her husband Ian and her son Robert did the annual Manchester to Blackpool bike ride for the Christie. Annie did this ride herself, with friends, three years ago and again this year.
She said: “Raising funds for these specialist facilities is crucial, and doing it by cycling or running also helps keep you fit.”
In October, it will be Marple College student Ed’s turn to play his part when he takes on the London Marathon hoping to raise £2,000 for the cause.
He said: “When my mum and dad told us about the cancer my immediate emotion was anger and frustration. I was very upset and thought I was going to lose my mum.
“I was only 10 at the time and didn’t really understand cancer. I didn’t know it could be treated. The feeling of not knowing why it had happened to my mum and why it had happened to my family was confusing.”
He added: “Having seen the support the Christie provides, I want to ensure that others can benefit from the same exemplary care. The support The Christie offered Mum and the whole family was unrivalled and genuinely so supportive.
“Doing the London Marathon this year and helping to support the development of The Christie at Macclesfield is my way of giving something back and saying thank you.”
Annie said: “I think it’s brilliant that Ed is doing the Marathon for such a good cause, and training for the run has given him something really positive to aim for during the pandemic. I’m really proud of him.”
The Macclesfield clinic is due to open in December 2021, and is expected to transform cancer care in Cheshire, North Staffordshire and the High Peak, providing care closer to home for more than 1,500 existing patients a year.
It will bring together essential cancer services into one purpose built centre delivering local access to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, holistic support and information services, outpatient care, palliative care and a wider range of clinical trials than at present.
It will accommodate around 46,000 patient visits every year and offer specialist examination rooms, a CT simulator where treatments are planned, plus counselling and complementary therapy rooms.
The Christie charity needs to raise £23million for the project. To donate go to www.christies.org/macclesfield or call 0161 4463988.
Alternatively, to add to Ed’s marathon fundraising, go to www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ed-diamond.
Greater Manchester Cancer is currently looking to speak to cancer patients, carers of family members from the minority ethnic groups, the LGBTQ community and under traditionally marginalised groups about the particular issues they might experience in accessing treatment. To find out more contact Jane Cronin via [email protected] or 07500 577751.
Anyone wishing to get support from the South Manchester Breast Cancer Support Group can call Annie on 07726 996747.