Having spent a year undergoing treatment for cancer, Tracey
Hutchison is making up for the time she lost and using her new
perspective on life to do things she wouldn't previously have
dreamed of - including a recent hike to Machu Picchu in Peru.
Not only has Tracey had the adventure of a lifetime, she's also
raised over £1k for a cause very close to her heart - the appeal to
expand the Chemotherapy Day Unit at University Hospital of North
Tracey explains, "I am so grateful for the excellent care I've
received - scans, operations, chemotherapy and radiotherapy,
but there were times when it felt like I was being carried along on
a 'cancer tidal wave'. I can honestly say though, that during
my year-long treatment there was more laughter than tears.
Having been reminded that life is precious, I worry less and am
much more confident. So I'm using my new philosophy to get out
there and live life to the full!
"I'm determined to make up for the time I lost during
treatment, pursuing adventure whilst also playing my part in
creating a much bigger Chemotherapy Day Unit at University Hospital
of North Durham. Raising money by trekking to Machu Picchu
felt like a great way to fuel my own new desire to get out there -
I'd never previously been further than Greece! I've brought back
some amazing memories. The hike itself was tough and the
altitude meant I had to stop every ten steps or so to catch my
breath. But I was with a fantastic group of people, we were
all supporting each other - I have never felt comradeship quite
like it. It was also so beautiful, it was as though I was on
a film set and the mountains were on a green screen."
Having lived through cancer, I am bored by so much emphasis
being placed on the negative. I want to come from the
perspective that although no one want to be dealt the cancer card
it can also bring a sense of entitlement and the need to enjoy life
as much as possible. Having cancer has taught me so much 'big
stuff', such as what matters and what doesn't, and 'little stuff' -
such as how to draw eyebrows in and the correct way to tie walking
boots! In many ways I feel liberated, in fact, there are parts of
me I don't recognise!
I'm delighted that in fulfilling one of my dreams I am also
supporting a cause close to my heart and which is likely to benefit
so many people across County Durham. I volunteer for the
Trust's Charity team one day a week and it's a great feeling to be
giving something back. I've helped out at black tie events
and man a book stall at University Hospital of North Durham - more
things I wouldn't have dreamt of doing previously.
Beth Gibson, manager of the chemotherapy unit, said, "Cancer
screening, increased public awareness alongside advancements in
investigations, such as MRI scans and CT scans, means many patients
are diagnosed earlier. As developments in medicine continue,
treatment options become more readily available on the NHS and with
the introduction of immunotherapy and targeted treatments; more
patients are able to receive additional treatment options than was
previously possible. Patients are living longer with a cancer
diagnosis and whilst this is fantastic news, it's putting our small
unit under growing pressure and potentially affecting patient
privacy and dignity."
"Provisional plans for our purpose built unit include a
dedicated area with 16 treatment chairs and ample space to allow
relatives/friends to be with the patient for the duration of the
treatment. Currently due to limited space relatives are only able
to come along to the first treatment session. Our plans also
include three outpatient clinic rooms and other treatment
Charity manager at County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation
Trust, Pat Chambers, said, "We're very grateful to Tracey for her
support - she's become a reliable, very positive team member -
we're lucky to have her. Even very fit people find the Machu Picchu
trek challenging and far from everyone completes it, so we're
really proud of her. I know Tracey trained hard and we're
delighted for her - and very grateful for her generosity.
"I'd urge anyone looking to support a worthwhile cause to get in
touch. You could help out at one of our events or run a
fundraising event of your own. You don't have to go to Peru
though - we'd be happy with a coffee morning!"
To contact the Charity Team: email: firstname.lastname@example.org or
phone: 01325 743781.
Published 16th Sept 2019
'As I was very, very nervous, I must have been the worst patient
ever and they were brilliant with me and I can't thank them enough
- could you please pass on my sincere thanks.'
Patient, Hysteroscopy Unit, Chester-le-Street Community