5 cancer patients from The Christie are the stars of the hospital’s Highlights of the Year video which demonstrates how The Christie helps to improve the quality of life for cancer patients.
They include BBC broadcaster Mark Radcliffe, 63, who was treated at The Christie for head and neck cancer in 2018 and his co-presenter in the film, 21-year-old patient Valentina Sivori from Hyde who was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma in September last year.
The video celebrates the life changing work that has taken place in the last 12 months at The Christie and showcases advances in treatment and care.
Mark’s cancer forced him to spend several months off the radio, but he has since returned to the BBC.
The grandfather and father of 3 who lives in Knutsford with his wife Bella, said: “It was an honour to be able to help out The Christie with this heart-warming and inspiring video. I’m here today because of the wonderful care and treatment The Christie provides and it is important to show the way in which advances in care and innovation continue to improve care for patients like me.”
Mark’s co-presenter in the film, Valentina, was referred to The Christie for months of chemotherapy treatment for Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Valentina is now looking forward to resuming her history studies at York University after spending the last few months recuperating.
Valentina said: “My diagnosis last year was a huge shock but I was referred to The Christie and I immediately knew I was in safe hands. I had to attend most of my appointments on my own because of the pandemic, which was frightening, but the nurses and doctors were so caring and reassuring.
“Completing the video alongside Mark was great fun and a memorable way of reflecting on everything that has happened to me over this last year.”
Both Mark and Valentina share a love for dogs and are shown walking their dogs in Tatton Park and discussing their treatment at The Christie.
3 other patients feature in the video including one of the country’s leading professional embroidery artists, Louise Gardiner, 49, from Bristol. She was given just 6 months to live in March 2020, when an 11cm tumour was found on her ovaries and she was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer and secondary cancer in her lungs, liver, abdomen, armpit lymph and bowel.
Louise, who is originally from Styal in Cheshire, asked for a referral to The Christie and is now able to enjoy life again thanks to a clinical trial. Since January 2021, she was been given an immunotherapy drug that boosts the body’s immune system and helps fight the cancer. Louise is responding well and her scans show the cancer is reducing and her symptoms have slowly disappeared.
“Being told I had 6 months to live was the most surreal moment of my life,” said Louise. “I was riddled with cancer, I could feel tumours growing under my skin. Since I’ve started having immunotherapy I feel so much better. The trial has saved my life and for that I am full of gratitude.”
Retired detective superintendent Bob Huntbach, 73, from Urmston, who is being treated for cancer for a second time, also features in the film. Bob is one of around 6,000 patients each year to benefit from having cancer treatment at home, thanks to an innovative service provided by The Christie. The Christie ‘At Home’ service consists of 12 fully qualified chemotherapy and immunotherapy nurses who visit patients in their own homes to provide treatments.
Finally, breast cancer patient and single mum Melissa Lomas, 41, is shown looking around The Christie at Macclesfield, a £26m new cancer centre that will provide care closer to home for more than 1,500 patients a year. The centre will open in December 2021.
Melissa had to travel from her home in Poynton in Manchester for 15 consecutive weekdays in March and April 2021 to have radiotherapy at The Christie. With radiotherapy soon to be provided at The Christie at Macclesfield, a 10-minute drive for Melisa, she was thrilled to see the progress on the new centre which will deliver access to radiotherapy, chemotherapy, holistic support and information services, outpatient care, palliative care and a wider range of clinical trials than at present.
In addition to the 5 patients in the video, 3 Christie staff contribute to the film. Matron Lorna Brown talks about how staff have worked tirelessly for the last 18 months to maintain essential cancer treatments during the pandemic in a COVID-19 safe way. The head of radiotherapy, Adrian Flynn and chemotherapy outreach nurse Jim Jones also feature.
The Christie NHS Foundation Trust was the first specialist trust to be rated as ‘Outstanding’ twice (in 2016 and 2018) by the health regulator the Care Quality Commission (CQC). It referred to The Christie as ‘a leader in cancer care’ and ‘a pioneer in developing innovative solutions to cancer care.’ The CQC praised the Trust’s staff which it said ‘go the extra mile to meet the needs of patients and their families’ and that they were ‘exceptionally kind and caring.’ In 2017, the CQC rated The Christie as the best specialist trust in the country, and one of the top three trusts overall in England.