Racing driver Martin Brundle helped launch a state-of-the-art Mobile Chemotherapy Unit (MCU) at a special ceremony in Bury St Edmunds on Thursday.
The unit, named Frisbey after Mr Brundle’s grandmother, has been provided to West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust by cancer charity Hope for Tomorrow (HFT), of which Mr Brundle is a patron.
It is the 10th unit to be brought into operation by the charity and the very first for East Anglia.
Christine Mills, the charity’s founder and trustee, said it marked a’ very special milestone’ and brought them a step closer to realising their dream of having a unit in every county.
Mr Brundle praised HFT for its ‘efficient, effective, targeted and focused’ approach, adding: “In my world of motorsport we have to be like that because there’s always a race coming up.”
It was a particularly poignant day for him and his family, marking exactly 20 years since his father, John, lost his battle with cancer.
“I feel quite emotional about it because it’s his mum we named it after,” he said.
Patients in Thetford will be the first to benefit from the £260,000 unit, funded by the Mark Benevolent Fund of the Mark Master Masons, but further locations will be added as the service develops.
Cancer patient Dilys Andrews, of Hadleigh, said she looked forward to having Sudbury included as part of the MCU service as it would stop chemotherapy appointments ‘swallowing a whole day’ and would put an end to the stress associated with parking at the hospital.
Nurse Anne Brookes, who will be managing it for the first three months, said: “I’m very excited. I think it’s going to great for the patients, saving them a lot of time, and it’s a nice environment for them and for us to work in.”
Roger Quince, chairman of the Trust, said: “The strategy of the hospital has been more and more to move services out to the community so the Hope for Tomorrow initiative really does absolutely fit where we want to be. So, increasingly, we’re providing outpatient appointments in clinics around the area we serve which is quite large and quite spread out and I think the ‘chemo bus’ will really complement those services.
“We’ve all been touched by cancer and, for those people who have to travel into hospital for chemotherapy, it’s often a very unpleasant journey and I think doing this treatment closer to home is absolutely the right thing to do.”