Cancer patient in call for radiotherapy centre

Posted on Jul 26, 2011

Gina Musselwhite is battling breast cancer for the second time in two years – but the long trek to Oxford and back to receive radiotherapy was enough to make her consider refusing the life-saving treatment. After she was originally diagnosed with the disease back in 2009, Gina, 49, of Gorse Hill, underwent chemotherapy before having to travel to Oxford for radiotherapy every day for six weeks.

She travelled with the Patient Transport Service, an ambulance car that picks up a number of patients from their homes as early as 7.30am. It cannot make the return journey until the final patient has received radiotherapy, resulting in a long day for everybody involved.

Gina said having to go through the ordeal without a family member or friend by her side made her initially refuse the treatment the second time around.

But being a mum of six, including twins Jade and Jodie, Gina was eventually persuaded to go ahead with the treatment.

“It is bad enough that you are so ill anyway, and going through all the treatment is quite scary, but when you can’t take anyone with you in the taxi it is horrible,” she said.

“When they told me this time round that I would have to go to Oxford again I said I wasn’t going to do it – I couldn’t face it.

“But it was my family who encouraged me to go through with it.

“I have my little girls and I had to do it for them or else the cancer would spread.

“They are too young to understand but they know mummy has been ill, and it is horrible because there are so many things I can’t do with them that I would like to.”

Gina completed three weeks of radiotherapy last month and this time around, was taken to and from the Oxford hospital by her son, Richard Miles, 29, of Beech Avenue.

“Although the people who take you to and from Oxford are very nice, it is not the same when you haven’t got a member of your family there with you to support you and chat to you,” she said.

“This time my son took me there and back every day and then he would go straight to work when we got back.

“It is so tiring for everybody involved. When I get back I am so tired all I can do is sleep.

“Of course there are people much worse off than me – some people are travelling even further, and there are a lot of old people making that journey on their own.

“It is terrifying, we are going through enough as it is.”

Gina’s daughter, Kelly Miles, 28, said: “It wasn’t nice waving her off on her own for the radiotherapy. It was worrying because anything could happen when she is at the hospital or on the way and we wouldn’t know.

“It is much better for all of us when we can go with her so we know what she is going through.”

Gina has already had one mastectomy and will find out later this year if she has to have a second.

She said she would love to see a radiotherapy unit in Swindon and believes it would be of huge benefit to the thousands of cancer patients in and around the town, as well as their families.

“I wish it had been there when I was diagnosed the first time,” she said.

“I know it has been talked about for a long time, and I thought there would be a unit when the new hospital was built. The facilities in Oxford are brilliant, but we shouldn’t have to be going through all this at such a horrible time.”

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