"RBH deserves new machine"
A CANCER patient who lost her husband to the disease is backing an appeal for new world-class equipment for the hospital trust providing her treatment.
Easthampstead mum Linda Jones, 50, is encouraging people to support the Accelerator Appeal - run by the News' sister paper the Reading Chronicle - to raise £100,000 for a fifth Linear Accelerator (Linac) radiotherapy machine for the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH) NHS Foundation Trust's Berkshire Cancer Centre in Reading.
The Wildridings Primary School teaching assistant and lunchtime controller also says it has been a "God-send" to be able to receive follow-up care from the trust closer to home at its new Bracknell Clinic.
Mrs Jones, who was diagnosed with breast cancer in August 2010, backed the appeal for the new £1m Elekta Compact machine, saying: "My radiotherapy treatment at the Royal Berkshire Hospital made a lot of difference, it really did. I can't fault it.
"It will be nice to have something new there and I think they deserve it. It will be money well spent."
The Elekta Compact machine will be the first of its kind in Britain and only the second in Europe and will replace a 19-year-old Linac which is due to be decommissioned later this year. Eventually it will be upgraded to provide Intensity-Modulated Radiotherapy (IMRT), a more complex treatment using multiple beams to trace tumour shapes more accurately and reduce tissue damage and side effects.
Mrs Jones, who has daughters Emma Jones, 22, and Claire Jones, 19, was diagnosed just before the first anniversary of her husband Stephen's death aged 50 after a 10-month battle against bowel cancer, with treatment at the RBH.
She said: "I have had a good group of friends and family all the time so that has kept me going. I thought it is not going to beat me. I am doing okay - people look at me and don't think anything has been wrong."
She added: "The staff at the RBH were just marvellous, just really good. And the treatment at the Bracknell clinic, I can't speak highly enough. They have been really spot on."
Since her diagnosis she has undergone radiotherapy at the RBH and chemotherapy. Now, she receives cancer drug herceptin through a drip at the Royal Berkshire Bracknell Clinic, which she has attended since it opened in September. The clinic provides radiotherapy, chemotherapy, dialysis and other services to save people travelling to Reading.
Mrs Jones said: "It has made a lot of difference to me because I don't drive - it has been a God-send for me. People offer me lifts, but if it is a nice day it takes me just over 20 minutes to walk it. It can take a while for me to get to the RBH."
Mrs Jones was among patients who met the Countess of Wessex when she officially opened the clinic last month, and said: "I told her about travelling and what a great thing having the clinic so local is. She was very nice and down to earth."