Published 3 November 2022
TV presenter Gloria Hunniford has launched a campaign to raise money to support mobile cancer care units.
Gloria, who lives in Sevenoaks, is patron for charity Hope for Tomorrow, which provides the units for the NHS, and is encouraging people to share a ‘Cuppa for Cancer Care’ to coincide with World Cancer Day.
In east Kent, the vehicle is named Caron, after her daughter and fellow TV personality Caron Keating, who died from breast cancer in 2004.
Gloria said: “Cancer can take a terrible toll on individuals and their families. Travelling for repeated treatment is often difficult, stressful and time-consuming, for so many people.
“The mobile cancer care units and specialist NHS nurses drive out to patients’ communities rather than them having to travel to hospital. This makes a difficult time that much easier for them.”
Cuppa for Cancer Care takes place from 30 January to 5 February, around World Cancer Day, on 4 February. The charity wants people from across the country to get together for tea, coffee and cake in aid of supporting mobile cancer care.
Gloria continued: “Patients regularly comment on how great the nurses and drivers are, with the team immediately making them comfortable and offering them a cup of tea or coffee.
“That’s where the idea of Cuppa for Cancer Care came from, and we hope that people across the country will get together for this wonderful cause. The mobile units are a fabulous asset in their communities.”
Inside, the units are just like hospital treatment rooms, with four treatment chairs, chemotherapy pump stands, and medical storage facilities. They are equipped with air conditioning and a cooling and heating system for patient comfort, as well as a toilet and kitchen.
Earlier this year, Gloria launched a brand new, £250,000 Hope for Tomorrow unit, named Caron, at East Kent Hospitals. It replaced the first Caron treatment unit which had already treated more than 13,000 patients in its decade of service. The unit allows patients to be treated in Herne Bay, Dover, Folkestone and Cheriton.
Sarah Collins, operations director for cancer for East Kent Hospitals, said: “Onboard Caron, tea and coffee are just as important as the fuel to keep us on the road so we’re delighted to support the Cuppa for Cancer Care campaign.
“We know how important it is for our patients to be able to have their care nearer their homes, and to avoid the need to travel to a hospital.
“Thanks to fundraising, we were able to take delivery of the brand new Caron this summer so we hope as many people as possible will sit down with friends for a cuppa and a cake to help make sure more patients will be able to benefit from the service in future.”
Hope for Tomorrow’s latest patient feedback shows that, on average, for each treatment, patients save two and a half hours, 20 travel miles, and £6 on parking. With treatment lasting several months and sometimes years, the time and financial savings can be considerable. Seventy-one per cent of patients said they can tolerate their treatment more easily on a mobile cancer care unit, while 47 per cent felt that they were more likely to complete their full course of treatment.
Tina Seymour, Hope for Tomorrow chief executive, said: “The mobile units allow cancer patients to have their treatment in a much more convenient way, taking away the disruption that long journeys can bring.
“They tell us that it makes a huge difference to them and they love the friendly atmosphere provided by the NHS staff and drivers. It costs £212 a day to keep a mobile cancer care unit on the road so fundraising is vital to keep the service going.”
Hope for Tomorrow was founded by Christine Mills MBE in December 2003. Christine had a very personal reason for wanting to establish mobile cancer care; her husband David suffered from cancer. The couple had to endure the stress and pain of regular 60-mile journeys to the oncology centre for his treatment. Christine also sadly died from cancer in September 2018.
Anyone interested in hosting an event, however big or small, should visit www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk/cuppa to sign up for a free fundraising pack.
Cuppa for Cancer Care is sponsored by Janes Pantry.
For more information on Hope for Tomorrow visit www.hopefortomorrow.org.uk