Joyce Crook, 72, a retired bank clerk from Breightmet in Bolton was first treated at The Christie NHS Foundation Trust in Manchester 20 years ago after her husband, Dave, spotted a suspicious mole on the back of her leg after watching a documentary about skin cancer. 

Joyce, who is a grandmother of two, went to her GP who referred her to The Christie who diagnosed a melanoma which had spread to the lymph nodes. She was put under the care of Dr Paul Lorigan, who successfully treated her and she was in remission for two decades.  Last year she noticed a lump in her stomach and quickly got it checked out. Unfortunately Joyce had relapsed and the cancer had returned to her lymph nodes.

Remarkably after 20 years she was seen by the same consultant, Paul Lorigan, who was by now a professor. Joyce is just completing 24 sessions of immunotherapy which she’s able to do at home thanks to The Christie At Home service, where Christie nurses visit patients in their own home. The treatment is working and her condition is stable and the cancer is currently under control.

Professor Paul Lorigan said: “We obviously hope we don’t see patients again once in remission but when we do, it’s nice to offer them continuity of care even when two decades have passed. Our treatments have improved dramatically in the intervening time and we have been able offer the most effective treatment available.  I’m delighted that Joyce is responding well to the treatment and it’s keeping the cancer at bay.”

Joyce added: “Professor Lorigan is such a wonderful, approachable man so I was so pleased to be under his care again.  At 52, it was really scary to discover I had cancer and Professor Lorigan and his team were fantastic.  He saved my life and gave me 20 more years. If he can give me another 20 years I’ll be happy.

“The Christie At Home service is marvellous and saves us two days a month of travelling to The Christie in Withington.  My bloods now get done at my GP practice, tested at Bolton Royal Infirmary and the results sent through to The Christie. The nurses that visit are angels and it’s more like friends coming to make you better than anything else. We have a really good natter and I look forward to it. My husband can sit with me in the living room which is so much better than him waiting for hours in the car, as visitors aren’t allowed in the hospital at the moment.”

The Christie at Home service is part-funded by The Christie charity. The Christie charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS funds. This includes money for care and treatment, research, education and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide to patients and their families. 

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.