A breast cancer survivor who recently lost her brother to cancer says a new North Devon cancer and wellbeing centre would be ‘invaluable’ for families.
Sarah De’Athe-Winter, 42, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2016 and underwent a mastectomy, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
After finishing treatment in July 2017, preparations began for her wedding to her husband Adrian in October that year, but then her older brother Adam, 47, became unwell.
Adam spoke to his doctor about stomach problems and was eventually taken to A&E, where he was told he had pancreatic cancer, and only weeks to live. He died at North Devon Hospice on March 11.
Sarah said: “When I went through my treatment I had the support of the counsellor Jess French at the Seamoor Unit.
“She has also been helping me since we lost Adam, but for my parents there was nothing.
“They have had to go through my breast cancer treatment and then losing Adam.
“For them to just be able to go somewhere where they can talk to someone in a similar situation or see a friendly face would great.”
During Sarah’s own treatment, she used the FORCE Centre in Exeter regularly, and said to have such a facility in North Devon would be invaluable.
She said: “I don’t travel well so when I had to have radiotherapy I stayed in Exeter three-to-four nights a week.
“If it hadn’t been for the FORCE Centre it would have been very lonely and I think we really need something like that here.
“It was somewhere you could just take off your wig, or have your PICC line on display, and just feel completely comfortable. You didn’t feel rushed to leave.”
Through FORCE, Sarah was also put in touch with local support groups and a fitness group for cancer patients.
One of the ideas behind the new £1.5million centre at North Devon District Hospital is that it would provide a home for these groups.
“I just think this centre is so important; we need it,” she said.
Hospital charity Over and Above is currently almost a third of the way towards its total towards building the new cancer and wellbeing centre.
If you would like to support the appeal or want to find out more, visit overandabove.org.uk or contact the fundraising team on 01271 311772.