A North Devon man who has been diagnosed with cancer twice has been speaking of his journey and how a new cancer and wellbeing centre in Barnstaple would have been a huge help.
The £1.5million Over and Above hospital charity appeal for the new centre at North Devon District Hospital in Barnstaple has now passed the £800,000 mark and the official turf cut to start work took place earlier this month.
The centre will support cancer patients, people with long-term conditions and their families through every stage of their journey.
Chris Davis, aged 69, now lives in Combe Martin with his partner Sandra but his journey began when he was first diagnosed with an aggressive bladder tumour in 2010 at The Royal Berkshire Hospital in Reading.
He had to undergo life-changing surgery to have his bladder, prostate and bilateral lymph nodes removed and it set him upon a very long path to recovery as he battled infection.
Surgeons created a replacement 'neo bladder' from his small bowel and he was given the all-clear, remaining in good health until April 2018 when the couple's world crashed in when another malignant tumour was found.
Miraculously, a biopsy appeared to remove all the malignant tissue and subsequent scans came back clear – now Chris is hoping a final biopsy in Exeter will finally give him the all clear.
Chris believes a cancer centre in Barnstaple would have been used by him and Sandra on many occasions and would have given a better care experience.
He said: “In general terms I cannot fault my individual care from the multi-disciplines that have been involved; in particular the specialist cancer nurses have been second to none and have always been there when I needed them.
“There have been several occasions that the care I received had shortcomings in that there is little in the way of a holistic approach to the overall package, it just doesn't feel 'joined up'.
“There were many times that both as a couple and individually we would have sort solace, advice and guidance on diet, exercise, finance, emotional and many other areas or just needed a place to run to after diagnosis rather than driving home frightened and alone.”
You can find out more about the new centre, how to get involved and support the appeal at http://overandabove.org.uk/ or call the fundraising team on 01271 311772.