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Cancer nurse says new wellbeing centre is ‘vital’ for North Devon patients

PUBLISHED: 11:27 07 August 2017 | UPDATED: 16:15 09 August 2017

Cancer nurse and patient Laura Harris is supporting the North Devon Cancer and Wellbeing Centre appeal.

Cancer nurse and patient Laura Harris is supporting the North Devon Cancer and Wellbeing Centre appeal.

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A cancer nurse receiving palliative care at North Devon District Hospital (NDDH) says she is determined to see a new cancer and wellbeing centre built.

Hospital charity Over and Above last week launched its £1.5million appeal to build the new centre at NDDH.

Laura Harris, an acute oncology nurse at the Seamoor Unit who was diagnosed with incurable bowel cancer in January, said the centre will be ‘vital’ for patients.

Laura, 42, has been on an aggressive chemotherapy treatment every two weeks, but despite the severe side effects, is determined to support the appeal.

The mother-of-two told the Gazette: “I am determined this will be built before I leave this earth. This centre is extremely important.

“To be able to come in and see a friendly face, or to be able to walk in without an appointment, will be the most liberating experience for patients.

“It will be a place to go, should you need someone to talk to who is perhaps not a family member; someone who understands what you’re going through.

“You could, for example, be sat next to a woman who has just been diagnosed and has that glazed look of someone who has just been hit by a bus.

“Talking about what you’re both going through can be therapeutic for both parties.”

How the new Over and Above Cancer and Wellbeing Centre will look.How the new Over and Above Cancer and Wellbeing Centre will look.

READ MORE: Hospital launches £1.5million appeal for new North Devon Cancer and Wellbeing Centre

Laura said she hopes new support groups for cancer patients – both past and current – will be borne from the centre as people use it.

“It’s going to really improve people’s quality of life, and when you don’t have much time left you want it to be as good as it possibly can,” she said.

“For curative patients, the goal is just to survive, and to survive well with a quality of life that doesn’t financially, mentally or emotionally bleed you dry in the process.”

Laura said oversubscribed services, such as counselling for patients and their families, would be able to move into the new centre grow to accommodate needs.

How the new Over and Above Cancer and Wellbeing Centre will look.How the new Over and Above Cancer and Wellbeing Centre will look.

Laura said her daughter Molly used the services after she was initially diagnosed.

“She moved away from me; she couldn’t look at me or hug me, and I didn’t know how to reach out to her,” said Laura.

“I booked her into counselling and it has given me my daughter back; they’ve given her the skills to accept that life is changeable.”

To find out more about the Over and Above charity, visit www.overandabove.org.uk, the charity’s Facebook page, contact the fundraising team on 01271 311772, or email ndht.charity@nhs.net.

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