A couple who have both battled cancer in the last three years have urged people to support the fundraising effort to build a state of the art cancer centre in Macclesfield. Husband and wife, Keith and Andrea Oldham, who were both treated at The Christie, made the plea during The Christie charity’s inaugural Christmas concert in Macclesfield on 17 December.

Husband Keith, accompanied by his wife Andrea, shared both of their stories in an inspiring and uplifting concert hosted by BBC broadcaster Mark Radcliffe. The concert also featured students from Fallibroome Academy, Macclesfield youth brass band, professional singer and Christie charity supporter Katherine Farrow, and Ischia Gooda, the Macclesfield teenager who was crowned young chorister of the year in 2017.

The magical evening, held in in the stunning surroundings of Saint Michael and All Angels Church, was fully sold out. Money from the event, which was sponsored by Thorneycroft Solicitors Limited, will go towards building a new cancer centre in Macclesfield for more than 1,500 existing Christie patients every year.

The Reverent Martin Stephens welcomed the audience and an additional reading was made by Karen Fay from Fallibroome Academy.

Speaking at the concert, Keith, who is a freelance IT consultant, described how he was first diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2017. He had surgery at Macclesfield District General Hospital to remove the tumour, followed by chemotherapy and finally radiotherapy at The Christie. He spent a gruelling five weeks travelling from home in Congleton to south Manchester every weekday for radiotherapy.

Shortly before getting married to Andrea in September last year, a routine scan identified cancer in Keith’s left lung. Surgery followed, with around half of his lung removed.

Despite this, Keith and Andrea asked guests at their wedding to donate money instead of wedding gifts, to help fund new surgical equipment at Macclesfield District General Hospital and they later decided to donate the £2,760 surplus collected to support The Christie at Macclesfield appeal.

Less than a year after getting married, Andrea found out that she had breast cancer. She had surgery in September 2019  to remove the tumour and has only recently completed a three week course of radiotherapy at The Christie in Withington.

Speaking at the concert Keith said: Sadly both Andrea and I know The Christie far too well.  The cancer treatment they provide is recognised as world class. Compassion, humanity and laughter run through the corridors of The Christie. 

“It’s been a tough couple of years for us, both as patients and as carers to each other.  Caring for somebody going through the trauma of cancer treatment is no mean feat and, quite frankly, my wife deserves a medal for her support of me.”

Keith added: “We both know exactly how gruelling it can be to not only go through daily radiotherapy every day for several weeks but the added stress of a long journey to and from Manchester makes it worse. Being able to have treatment closer to home will make a huge difference to patients in the future.”

Keith and Andrea are determined to maintain a positive attitude to help comfort their family and friends, including Keith’s three sons.

Radio broadcaster, musician and writer Mark Radcliffe from Knutsford who hosted the event, also shared his experience of cancer. He was treated at The Christie after being diagnosed with a cancerous tumour at the back of his tongue in September 2018 which had spread to some of the lymph nodes in his neck. In Spring 2019 he was told his cancer was in remission.

Mark said: “I’m supporting the fundraising appeal to build The Christie at Macclesfield because I know that it will make a huge difference to patients to be able to have more of their cancer care and treatment closer to home.”

To find out more about The Christie at Macclesfield appeal and the ways you can support it please contact The Christie charity on 0161 446 3988 or visit www.christies.org/macclesfield  

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.