The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre
Amy Cookson, 33, from Liverpool tells us why The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s work is so important
Amy Cookson, a nurse at The Clatterbridge Cancer Centre’s haemato-oncology unit at the Royal Hospital in Liverpool, much of her time is spent caring for individuals during one of the most difficult times of their lives. “It can be a peculiar and incredibly hard time when people are facing a diagnosis and often lengthy treatment and are trying to take it all in. I always try my best to support them through it in any way I can, as I know exactly what they are going through.”
Amy’s experience on the haemato-oncology ward began very differently in 2013, after she discovered a lump on her neck. “I had just arrived home from Glastonbury and assumed I had developed a throat infection, so went to my GP to have it checked out. To my surprise, he immediately said I needed to have blood tests and a chest X-ray, which I had the next week. I was then referred to the hospital for more tests.”
“I was inspired by the high level of care”
Following an MRI scan, blood tests, a CT scan and a PET scan, Amy was told she had Hodgkin lymphoma – a cancer that develops in white blood cells called lymphocytes, which are part of the immune system. “It was a huge shock, as cancer had never crossed my mind. I was only 26 years old and hadn’t realised I had been experiencing other symptoms. I’d just put the tiredness, night sweats and weight loss I’d had down to stress and a busy lifestyle.
“As the consultant told me I would need chemotherapy, all I could think of was my little girl, Ava, and how we were going to get through this. She was six years old, but I had to tell her I was sick and needed medicine that would make me even more sick in the short term and would make me lose my hair. She found it hard to understand as, to her, I didn’t look or seem unwell.”
Amy decided to delay her treatment for a few weeks in order to have fertility treatment to save her eggs in the hope she could have a baby in the future. She then started chemotherapy in September 2013. “I had the treatment every two weeks for six months, which was really hard going. I lost all my hair and experienced really bad sickness, which meant some days I was too poorly to look after Ava.
“Sometimes, when I was chatting to one of the nurses, I would completely forget I had cancer and why I was there. That was the best feeling – to feel normal during such a strange time”
Luckily, my mum became mum to us both, and Ava’s friends’ parents would also rally round to get her to school and take care of her, which was fantastic. I had an amazing support system of family and friends who were with me through it all.”
Amy finished chemotherapy in February 2014 and fortunately didn’t need any more treatment. “I had been off work for a while, so my brain was desperate to get back to something once the cancer was gone, and I had started to re-evaluate my life and look at everything differently. I thought what better way to thank the people who saved my life than actually doing what they did but for someone else?”
Amy took an access course, then went to university to study nursing, qualifying in September 2018. She began working in haematology at The Clatterbridge Centre in Liverpool that October. “I was so inspired by how well I was looked after by the staff at Clatterbridge that I made up my mind to become a nurse there too. I wanted to give at least one person the positive experience I had while I was in hospital, and to go into work every day and give such an amazing level of care is one of the best things I could imagine doing.
“I think the work Clatterbridge does is so important, as not only are they caring for you physically and making your cancer go away, they also support you emotionally during an extremely difficult time and help you feel as comfortable as possible. Sometimes, when I was chatting with one of the nurses, I would completely forget I had cancer and why I was there. That was the best feeling in the world – to feel normal during such a strange time.”
“I wanted to give at least one person the positive experience that I had in hospital, and to give such an amazing level of care at work is one of the best things I could imagine doing”
Amy discovered that caring for others also had positive repercussions on her own mental health. “I used to think ‘Why me?’ when I was diagnosed with cancer, but doing what I do now helps me to rationalise all those feelings as I think maybe this is why I had to go through what I did, to be able to help people going through the same thing.
“Six years on from treatment, I get to come into work everyday as a nurse on the very ward I received my treatment. I feel so lucky to be in the position I am now, and to be part of the amazing Clatterbridge team.”
TOTAL RAISED: £24,523
The money raised in the Candis Big Give will go towards providing an Intrathecal Room at its new cancer hospital in Liverpool, due to open this May. The IR will be part of the hospital’s aim to unite care for blood cancer and solid tumour patients and offer haemato-oncology services to the patients treated there. Staff will use the fit-for-purpose room – which has been designed according to regulation guidelines – to deliver chemotherapy to prevent leukaemia spreading to the fluid around the brain and spine, helping to transform care for patients with leukaemia.
Visit clatterbridgecc.nhs.uk to find out more.
Donations to date
We never forget it’s YOUR subscriptions that enable Candis Club to give huge amounts to charities. Our running total shows how much
£31,620,386 to the Cancer and Polio Research Fund (1962 to 2002)
£4,429,597 to the National Asthma Campaign (1990 to 2002)
£5,500,979 to Marie Curie (1998 to 2012)
£3,304,767 to Macmillan Cancer Support (1993 to 2013)
£3,309,982 to Bliss, the special care baby charity (1990 to 2009)
£2,190,977 to Liverpool University’s Cancer Tissue Bank Research Centre (1989 to 1993)
£1,549,998 to the British Heart Foundation (2002 to 2008)
£914,053 to local groups via the Charities Aid Foundation (CAF) (1990 to 2009)
£220,000 to ICAN (1989)
£246,876 to Tommy’s, the baby charity (2006 to 2009)
£303,774 to Children’s Hospices UK (2008 to 2010)
£2,500,000 to charities in The Candis Big Give
TOTAL TO DATE
In 2020, Candis Club will donate at least £250,000 from members’ magazine subscription revenue to health charities taking part in The Candis Big Give. Any additional funds will go to charities at the discretion of the General Committee of Candis Club
Make a difference
We’ve highlighted some of the charities taking part in The Candis Big Give. For a full list, and details of the life-changing projects they’re raising money for, visit candis.co.uk/charity
BREAST CANCER HAVEN
What it does: Provides emotional, practical and physical support to breast cancer sufferers. Candis Big Give project: Money raised will help the charity to provide its breast cancer support programme. Location: National Total raised: £73,766
CHAILEY HERITAGE FOUNDATION
What it does: Helps and supports children with physical disabilities. Candis Big Give project: To buy equipment that aids limb movement. Location: Sussex Total raised: £21,247
What it does: Supports people with epidermolysis bullosa (EB). Candis Big Give project: To fund enhanced care for children at Great Ormond Street Hospital. Location: London Total raised: £37,042
NOAH’S ARK CHARITY
What it does: Fundraises for the Noah’s Ark Children’s Hospital for Wales. Candis Big Give project: To fund facilities for the Jungle Ward. Location: Cardiff Total raised: £70,674
THE BRAIN TUMOUR CHARITY
What it does: Supports people affected by brain tumours. Candis Big Give project: Money raised will be invested into research into brain tumours. Location: National Total raised: £100,518
THE CHILDREN’S TRUST
What it does: Supports children with a brain injury. Candis Big Give project: To offer activities and therapy to children. Location: Surrey Total raised: £80,048
What it does: Provides memorable Special Days for seriously ill adults. Candis Big Give project: To offer a positive focus away from treatment. Location: National Total raised: £45,224
How Buying a Subscription Helps – In 2020, Candis Club will donate at least £250,000 from members’ magazine subscription revenue to health charities taking part in The Candis Big Give.
Any additional funds will go tocharities at the discretion of the General Committee of Candis Club.