A breast cancer patient from Poynton in Cheshire is backing plans to build a new £26m cancer centre in Macclesfield.

Melissa Lomas was diagnosed with cancer last year and had her surgery in October 2020 before being referred to The Christie for follow up treatment including chemotherapy, which was provided at Macclesfield General Hospital, and radiotherapy at Withington. She is also having regular hormonal treatments to minimise the risk of cancer returning.

As she battled cancer over the last 6 months, solo mum Melissa had to juggle hospital appointments with home schooling commitments for her 6-year-old daughter Scarlett, leaving her exhausted.

During March and April 2021, Melissa was travelling to The Christie in Manchester for radiotherapy treatment every day for 3 weeks. She said: “I live in Poynton so The Christie at Macclesfield would have been the perfect place for my radiotherapy treatment as it is just 10 mins drive for me and a lot closer than Withington.

“If I’d been able to have my radiotherapy at Macclesfield, it would have made a huge difference to me and would have saved me so much time each day. When I was driving to Withington it meant I had to spend a whole morning or afternoon going for treatment but at Macclesfield, it would mean I could get there, have my treatment and be back home in less than 90 minutes.
“I would also have found it more comforting to have all my treatment done in one place. I’ve been very anxious throughout all the treatment and it would have been better for me to have had chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same place and to have seen the same faces each time. You build a bond with the team who treat you, from the receptionists to the nurses, doctors and radiotherapists, it is better if they all work in the same place.
“It also didn’t leave me much time or energy to do the things I love, like horse riding and walking. And of course, it took me away from Scarlett.”

Once The Christie at Macclesfield is open in December 2021, patients like Melissa will be able to have the majority of their treatment at the new cancer centre in Macclesfield, including all chemotherapy and all radiotherapy treatments and most outpatient appointments.

The Christie at Macclesfield will transform cancer care in East Cheshire, providing care closer to home for more than 1,500 patients a year. This ambitious project will bring together essential cancer services into one purpose built centre delivering local specialist 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 40,000 patient visits per year.

There will be specialist examination rooms, a CT simulator where treatments are planned, plus counselling and complementary therapy rooms. Existing Christie patients from Cheshire, North Staffordshire and the High Peak area of Derbyshire will all benefit.

Speaking about her experience of being treated at The Christie, Melissa said: “The staff at The Christie are fantastic, I can’t fault them.

“I’ve been suffering from anxiety and depression because of cancer and they have been very supportive throughout. My consultant even gave me her email and said I could contact her with any questions. Through talking to other patients, it is clear that so many people are struggling mentally, so it’s good to be able to talk about how tough it can be having cancer.”
“When I was anxious before a treatment, the staff would talk to me until I was more relaxed and ready to be treated.
“When they found out I had a young girl, they offered to help me talk to her about what cancer was and about my treatment but I managed to find my own way to tell Scarlett.”

Melissa will have a further scan in a few weeks to check that the treatment is working. She will remain on a follow up regime with regular Herceptin injections (which she has every 3 weeks for the next 12 months) and an ovarian suppression drug once every 4 weeks for the next 5 years. It is hoped that 2 out of 3 of these ovarian suppression treatments can be given locally by her GP.

The Christie charity needs to raise £23m towards the £26m new centre. To support The Christie at Macclesfield, please visit The Christie at Macclesfield campaign page or call 0161 446 3988.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.