Inspirational Young Fundraiser Brings Olympic Torch to Cancer Ward
A young cancer patient who was made a local celebrity recently when he carried the Olympic Torch through South Shields was today given the opportunity to see some of the equipment he has helped to provide through his tireless fundraising over the past two years for the Charlie Bear Cancer Appeal.
Michael Ready from Lobley Hill, Gateshead, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2010 and has undergone a gruelling regime of radiotherapy and chemotherapy at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital. Despite being seriously ill, Michael decided he wanted to raise as much money as possible for Charlie Bear for Cancer Care and set about drawing up a ‘shopping list’ of items he thought would help to make life more enjoyable for other young cancer patients at the hospital.
With the help of his family and Whickham School in Gateshead, Michael has so far raised in excess of £13,000 for the charity, some of which has been used to purchase iPods, iPads and Kindles for the newly refurbished Teenage and Young Adults cancer unit (TYA) at the hospital. The unit is the principle treatment centre for cancer patients aged 19 to 24 across the North East and Cumbria. It houses three individually-designed ensuite bedrooms, one four-bedded bay, a day room and a recreational relaxing room with a juke box, flat-screen tv, games consoles and kitchen area.
In recognition of his inspirational story and dedication to raising money to help others in a similar situation to himself, Michael won the Journal’s Great North Run Hall of Fame Award last year and was selected from thousands to carry the Olympic Flame in the recent Torch Relay. Wearing his Olympic tracksuit and carrying the iconic torch, Michael was able to visit the TYA today at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and see for the first time some of the equipment he helped to purchase through his fundraising activities.
Michael Ready visits the Teenager and Young Adults Cancer Unit (TYA) at NCCC
Charlie Bear for Cancer Care is a charitable fund dedicated to raising money for the Northern Centre for Cancer Care, an award-winning, state-of-the-art centre based at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital which is already internationally renowned and is at the forefront of research and development of new technologies in cancer treatment. The centre houses some of the most advanced and accurate radiotherapy equipment currently available in the UK.
In December 2011 Charlie Bear launched its ‘Cyber Surgery’ appeal which aims to take the Northern Centre for Cancer Care one step further by providing a new piece of equipment which will represent the jewel in the crown for cancer treatment and enable local cancer patients to be treated more quickly and effectively than ever before.
‘Cyber Surgery’ refers to the precise targeting of a tumour using advanced imaging and delivery of high doses of radiation with pinpoint multidimensional accuracy. In addition, damage to surrounding normal tissue is minimal and treatment is delivered in just a few short radiotherapy sessions. It has been likened to removing a grape from the centre of an orange, without damaging the orange. This vastly reduces the potential side effects of treatment.
The equipment can be used to treat a number of tumour sites in both children and adults such as brain, lung, pancreas, prostate, head and neck, liver and spinal tumours, both malignant and benign. This includes tumours which are otherwise inoperable.
There is also the potential for a large number of cancers currently requiring long courses of conventional radiotherapy, to be treated and cured with shorter courses. Typically, a 50 minute treatment could be reduced to just 12 minutes.
The technique requires specialist state of the art equipment and machinery. Currently such a facility is not available in the North East and patients mut travel to London for treatment. The current Charlie Bear appeal is striving to ensure that there is a provision in Newcastle.
Such a facility at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care would revolutionise cancer treatment in the North of England, a population of 3.2 million from the Scottish Borders to North Yorkshire and from the Northumberland coast to West Cumberland, giving patients access to the most state of the art radiotherapy treatments available anywhere in the UK.
Speaking at the Teenage and Young Adults cancer centre today, Michael Ready said:
“It was an amazing feeling carrying the torch through South Shields on the Olympic Relay. It was such an honour and I felt so proud. I’m really pleased to be able to come here today to see some of the equipment which has been bought by the Charlie Bear charity and to let the patients and staff here get a chance to see the Olympic torch first hand.
“I’m determined to continue my fundraising for Charlie Bear. This is a local North East charity that will benefit local people if they ever find themselves needing cancer treatment. I’m running for the charity in this year’s Great North Run for the second time and I’m planning more fundraiser nights.
“I would love one thing: for every person reading this today to think of ways to raise money for Charlie Bear for Cancer Care. “One simple way is to donate via the Just Giving site on http://www.justgiving.com/charliebear or text BEAR78 followed by whatever amount you can afford to 70070. Or just contact the Charlie Bear Appeal office on 0191 213 8615 if you have any other fundraising ideas.”
Julie Gill 0191 213 7945
Communications Officer Julie.Gill@nuth.nhs.uk
Newcastle Upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity & Newcastle Healthcare Charity
Angie Taylor 0191 213 8615
Charlie Bear Appeal Office
NOTES TO EDITORS:
1. Also present today at Michael Ready’s visit to the Teenage and Young Adults cancer unit:
Carol Richardson, matron of cancer services and clinical haematology at the Freeman Hospital, Lynn Dowling, Head of 6th Form, Whickham School, Nicola Bruce directorate manager, cancer services, Susan Brand, nurse specialist, TYA/cancer services and Penny Daley, sister, TYA/cancer services
2. The new state-of-the-art Teenage and Young Adults cancer unit at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care at Newcastle’s Freeman Hospital was officially opened on 7th June 2012 by Teenage Cancer Trust ambassador Joe McElderry. The £220,000 unit opened to patients earlier this year and provides care for 19 to 24 year olds with cancer from across the North East and Cumbria. It complements the charity’s existing unit at the Great North Children’s Hospital for 13-18 year olds. Young people aged 13-24 diagnosed with cancer in the North East now have access to specialist services.
3. The Charlie Bear for Cancer Care fund is administered by the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Charity (Reg 1057213), one of two officially appointed charities supporting the work of the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (the other charity being Newcastle Healthcare Charity, Reg No 502473). Both charities administer the many generous donations made by the general public to Newcastle’s two main hospitals, the Freeman and the RVI, and to other services offered by the Foundation Trust. In 2010/11 the charities provided nearly £3 million in equipment, amenities, training, education and research.