The new Macmillan Cancer Support Centre at Kettering General Hospital was officially opened by Lord Spencer on Monday, 16 January 2023.
Shaped by local people living with cancer, the brand-new state-of-the art centre brings together a range of vital cancer information and support services under one roof.
Since welcoming its first patient at the end of May, the centre has already supported around 1,224 people, providing practical and emotional support, welfare benefits advice and signposting to other support services.
With around 24,000 people living with and beyond cancer in Northamptonshire, the centre fills a much-needed gap in local support.
Ken Westall, 74, from Kettering, was diagnosed with rectal cancer in June 2021 and is one of the first patients to benefit from the new centre.
He said: “I was knocked off my feet when I was first told I had cancer. That’s when I first met Macmillan. They gave me the kind of support that’s like having a grannie, someone you can talk to who’s just outside of your normal family life that will let you offload and get everything off your chest. That’s how I see Macmillan.”
Ken had chemotherapy and radiotherapy to shrink the tumour and is now waiting on scan results to find out if he needs surgery.
Danielle Mellows, Macmillan Cancer Information and Support Service Lead has been supporting Ken in the new centre.
He said: “Macmillan provide that important counselling support that you need to express yourself. The worst thing you can do is bottle it up and allow the pressure to get to you. It’s brought me out of myself. I talk a lot to other people now about their experiences. It does me good and it does them good. I’m very positive. I’m thankful to Macmillan for keeping me in that glass half full situation.”
Danielle also put him in touch with the Macmillan Welfare Benefits Service who provided financial support to help him with the cost of cancer.
Leanne Hills, 44, from Stanwick, was diagnosed with breast cancer in January 2022. Leanne, who lives alone and works full time was struggling with the emotional and financial impact of her diagnosis and didn’t know where to turn.
She said: “Danielle has been invaluable. I didn’t know where to turn. I live on my own and work full time and didn’t know where to start with benefits. I didn’t know if I’d be able to continue working during my treatment. It was very frightening with bills increasing and it was all on me.”
Danielle helped Leanne to navigate the benefits system and talked through her worries.
Leanne continued: “To have that sort of support locally is absolutely brilliant. It will be a lifeline to so many people. Previously I’d have to travel to Northampton for things like support groups. It’s great for families too, as they often don’t know where to turn, and they’re worried too. Danielle has been amazing at relieving my worries, having somebody else to talk to has really helped. She’s become like a friend.”
The centre, designed by GSS Architecture, will also offer a wig fitting service and provide space for cancer support groups to meet.
Rachel Atkinson, Macmillan Partnership Manager for Northamptonshire, said: “It’s fantastic to be able to officially open this new centre which is already having a positive impact on the local community. Being diagnosed with cancer can affect so many different areas of your life, from relationships to finances. The new Macmillan Cancer Support Centre will support people with all those non-clinical needs, to enable them to live well with cancer, not just survive.”
Ruth Giles, Macmillan Head of Nursing for Cancer, said: “To be able to provide support in such a light, bright, welcoming space is wonderful and we’ve had a really positive response from patients who are already benefiting from the centre. Anyone with any questions or concerns about cancer can just drop in, no appointment needed, and speak to our specialist team who are there to provide support from the moment of diagnosis.”
The centre, located near the main outpatient’s entrance, is open Monday – Friday, 9am until 4pm. No appointment needed. You can also contact the centre on 01536 493888 or email email@example.com. Alternatively, you can call the Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 or visit www.macmillan.org.uk