A nurse from Whaley Bridge, who was diagnosed with cancer over seven years ago, is urging local people to support charity fundraising for a new £26 million cancer centre, The Christie at Macclesfield.
Annie Diamond (55) who is married to engineering manager Ian and has four children – Robert, Alex and twins Stuart and Ed, discovered a small breast lump in December 2013.
Her son Ed (18), who was just 10 when she was diagnosed with cancer, has been inspired by his mum’s experience of being treated at The Christie, to run the London Marathon later this year on 3 October.
Ed is aiming to raise £2,000 towards The Christie at Macclesfield, due to open in December 2021, where patients will be able to have most of their cancer treatment. The new centre will transform cancer care in Cheshire, North Staffordshire and the High Peak area of Derbyshire, providing care closer to home for more than 1,500 existing patients a year. To contribute to Ed’s fundraising target, visit his Justgiving page.
This ambitious project brings 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. It will offer specialist examination rooms, a CT simulator where treatments are planned, plus counselling and complementary therapy rooms.
Annie, who currently works for Public Health England, immediately got checked by her GP. 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.”
Annie’s 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, Tamoxifen and Letrozole. Commenting on her experience, Annie said:
The understanding and support initially from the GP, and subsequently from the consultants and nurses at The Christie in Withington, South Manchester, 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.
“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.
“I think it’s brilliant that Ed is doing the London Marathon for such a good cause, and training for the run has given him something really positive to aim for during the COVID-19 pandemic. I’m really proud of him.”
Ed, currently studying for an Extended Diploma in Sport and Coaching at Marple College, added:
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.
“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 when she had cancer 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.”
The Diamond family has raised funds for The Christie over many years. Seven years ago when Annie was recovering from surgery, her husband Ian and her son Robert did the annual Manchester to Blackpool bike ride for The Christie, and Annie did this ride herself, with friends, three years ago and is training for it again on 4 July this year. Annie said: “Raising funds for these specialist facilities is crucial, and doing it by cycling or running also helps keep you fit.”
Since being diagnosed, Annie has become involved in various patient forums and local groups. She is currently a service user representative for Greater Manchester Cancer, the 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 as a service user representative offers the chance to provide a patient or family/carer’s perspective to the development and improvement of cancer services, and has been very rewarding. I would encourage anyone who has experienced any type of cancer themselves or as a carer/family member to consider getting involved.”
The Christie charity needs to raise £23 million for the new centre.
Photo: Annie Diamond and Ed Diamond in training for fundraising events for the Christie charity this year