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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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‘We must fight to save Barrow oncology ward’

YOU only really realise how much you need something when it’s gone.

I feel this way about my wonderful mum, who lost her battle against cancer five years ago.

And soon, I fear, the people of Barrow will feel this way about the Furness Oncology Inpatient Unit.

This amazing facility provides medical care, treatment and above all physical and emotional support for all who use it. And I’m not just talking about the patients.

For 14 years my mother had bravely fought cancer.

Time and time again it returned, and with each new diagnosis she simply gritted her teeth, got on with the treatment and made the most of her life, cherishing every day with her husband, my dad and her family.

She had been treated in the “cupboard” that was Furness General’s original oncology outpatient unit, and also in the luxury five-star suite that was the “newly” opened facility – partly paid for by the generous donations from local people.

But after three victorious battles, the war was finally lost. The cruellest of illnesses was back – and this time it was incurable.

As always, the doctors, nurses and support team who we had got to know over the years urged us to stay positive. And we did. For as long as we could.

But in October 2007, kicking and screaming because she couldn’t bear to be away from her husband and the Hawcoat home she loved, my mum had to be admitted, as an inpatient, to the oncology unit at Furness General. Nothing can prepare the family of a cancer sufferer for this. The awful feeling that you’re running out of time. The dawning realisation that this time, things won’t “be fine”.

Sitting by her bedside, as she fought to defeat the cancer, is still one of the hardest things I have ever done. She was in pain – and worst of all, she was scared.

I don’t know what my mum talked to her wonderful nurses about when my dad or I weren’t there. But what I do know, as she lay in a hospital bed, being cared for in the very best facilities, by the very best staff, is they helped.

And they not only helped her. The nurses were always available for the families of dreadfully ill people who were struggling – as we did – to accept their loved ones were dying.

In her ward – of just three critically ill people – there was light, air, and staff who had enough time to deal with every patient, whether they needed medication or simply to talk.

And when mum’s battle was almost over, we, her family, were offered the luxury of a private room – virtually unheard of on the NHS.

This meant she could die with the immense dignity with which she had not only battled cancer but lived her life, and we had the room to grieve.

To lose this wonderful place for the people who are fighting to stay alive, and their families, can simply not be allowed to happen. We must fight to save it.

Have your say

What a moving message by Jane Lavender,I agree we must not let this facility be taken from our needy community,we all hope we never have to use it but how comforting to know that outstanding care and treatment is on our door step

Posted by Dave Oddy on 27 March 2013 at 17:42

My mum had treatment on the small ward they had before the unit was built the staff where first class I would not like to see again people with cancer put on a ward no bigger than a cupboard hence with no immune system put on a ward. My mum lost her fight but in her memory we held nights for the build of the oncology suite like many others. We must fight for any one with cancer now and in the future to keep the unit open

Posted by moyra lindsay on 27 March 2013 at 15:24

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