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Brave mum backs our Accelerator Appeal

Published: 18 Feb 2012 12:001 comment

A BRAVE mother who battled back from cancer a decade after her husband died from the devastating disease insists improving new lifesaving technology is crucial in beating the illness.

Amazing Technology: Radiotherapy patient Judy Bull and her son Simon holding a picture of her husband Peter who died from cancer in 2000.

Judy Bull this week backed our appeal to raise £100,000 towards a fifth Linear Accelerator (Linac) for the Royal Berkshire Hospital's Berkshire Cancer Centre - just a month after completing radiotherapy treatment on one of the hospital's sister machines at its Bracknell Clinic.

The mum of two from Furze Platt said: "The technology these days is amazing, they are making improvements all the time to pinpoint the treatment and save lives. But it's important we do more - there's so much cancer around and there's still tumours they can't operate on. It's a huge cost to the NHS, but by raising money we can help them nip it in the bud."

The 54-year-old primary school administrator was diagnosed with breast cancer last April, 11 years after husband Peter died from bile duct cancer aged just 49.

Specialists discovered her tumours after a routine mammogram at a mobile breast screening unit and she said: "It was shocking - my children had already been through it once with their father and I've had to bring them up on my own. I thought to myself why me? What have I done? I've lived a healthy lifestyle, I don't smoke or drink and eat healthily."

Within two weeks she began a six month chemotherapy course to shrink the tumours and underwent a lumpectomy in Heatherwood Hospital in Ascot in November to remove the tumours and some of her lymph glands.

In December she began an 18-session course of radiotherapy to ensure all cancerous cells were eradicated. The Bracknell Clinic's Linac is the first machine anywhere in Britain to operate outside a main hospital site, and oncologists prepared her at Reading's Berkshire Cancer Centre by applying tattoo-like markings to guide the highly accurate radiation beams more easily.

She said: "When you are under the machine you don't feel anything, but you hear a buzz in the background and you can feel very tired afterwards. But it's the lesser of two evils, as you want to stay alive and you have to put your faith in your treatment."

She also admitted the beams cause a "sunburn" like sensation to skin around the affected area, but said nurses apply a special cream to soothe the inflammation and soreness.

After completing her treatment last month doctors prescribed daily tablets for the next five years. She is grateful for the centre's support and added: "The breast is a very personal area but the staff were so lovely and friendly there and I was able to keep my dignity. You get to know them so well and in my last session I baked them a cake to say thank you."

*JUDY Bull had a royal appointment when she welcomed the Countess of Wessex to the official opening of the Royal Berkshire Bracknell Clinic on Wednesday last week.

She shook hands and chatted with the Countess as specialists showed her around the centre's radiotherapy.

Mrs Bull, who only received her official invitation to the ceremony just five days before the big day, added:"She asked me of my experience and I told her how lovely the staff are and how welcoming they are. She then went on to the chemotherapy unit and after she left I was lucky enough to have a look around it.

"She seemed a very lovely lady and was very interested to hear about the work going on here."

THE race to raise £100,000 for the our Accelerator Appeal is under way and we need our loyal readers and advertisers to galvanise the campaign.

The Chronicle is collecting funds in partnership with the Royal Berks Charity and there are many ways to pledge your cash to the cause.

The charity is seeking pledges of long term support by making regular direct debit donations or leaving a legacy in their will.

Charity director Mark Goff said: "We want to establish there's something here on their doorstep they can get involved in and leave a legacy."

To donate contact 0118 322 6969 or email charity@royalberkshire.nhs.uk

Donors can also text RBCL05 to 70070 followed by any amount from £1 to £10, and ticking the gift aid box if applicable.

People can also send cheques addressed to 'The Royal Berks Charity Accelerator Fund' to Accelerator Appeal Royal Berks Charity, FREEPOST RLRJ-XCXE-XCZH, Royal Berkshire Hospital, London Road, Reading RG1 5AN.

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