Meet the staff at north Norfolk's new £4.85m cancer centre
- Credit: Supplied by Macmillan
As the North Norfolk Macmillan Centre prepares for its official opening, the staff at the new £4.85m cancer care unit have been introducing themselves.
The centre at Cromer and District Hospital has already started taking patients, and officially opens on October 15. It can cater for up to 30 patients a day, saving many long trips to the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital.
Anita Martins, who was appointed matron of the hospital 11 years ago, said there was no job description that could summarise the breadth of what she does.
"It’s the close relationship with patients and staff that makes my job meaningful and motivates me to get patients involved wherever possible," she said.
Roger Bracey, from Aylsham, is one of 22 volunteers who have been recruited to welcome and support people who visit the centre.
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He began using his free time to help people with cancer after losing his wife Margaret to breast cancer in 2015.
He said: "It's never a pleasant day when you have to go in for treatment, so if someone is there to take the edge off things, it means a lot.
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“I decided that whether or not Margaret survived, I would return to the unit to volunteer and give something back, and I’ve got such a lot out of it.
"Just knowing that I’ve put a smile on someone’s face during what would otherwise be a gloomy day is all the reward I need for helping others."
Chris Grayston, who is responsible for the day-to-day running of the centre, said that even with the pandemic, it was "never an option to put this centre on the backburner".
"If anything the vulnerability of people with cancer made it a more urgent endeavour – and it’s quite an impressive accomplishment that everything stayed on track despite the health crisis.”
Emma Smerdon, one of four healthcare professionals running the new acute oncology service, said the centre will save patients "an exhausting journey from Norwich and spare them the stress of unnecessary admission to hospital, which is a special relief they know they don't have much time left".
Nurse Wendy Marchant said: "Being from Norfolk and working in cancer services, I've always been aware of the gap in cancer support that exists out here and taking on this role seemed a great way of providing the support that's been missing."