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Sarah completes five amazing challenges

Sarah Bennett has completed five amazing challenges to raise funds for our Breast Unit Special Appeal so she could give something back to the RUH after her crucial surgery.

Sarah who has raised an incredible £2,840 for our appeal, found out in October 2017 that she carried a mutation in her BRCA2 gene (meaning she had an 80% lifetime risk of breast cancer), so she made the difficult decision to have a potentially life-saving double mastectomy at the RUH. Sarah said:

“My experiences of the Breast Unit over the past three years have been nothing but positive. The care I have received has been fabulous, but they do need more space. Whilst my BRCA diagnosis continues to be a difficult journey to navigate, I am thankful for being able to take action before actually developing cancer. As the Appeal is raising funds to supplement the redevelopment, it feels very apt for me to contribute to something close to my heart. ”

The challenges which Sarah completed this year were the South West Coastal Half marathon on 6th April, the Pembrokeshire Coast Half Marathon on the 27th April, the Brecon Trail Half Marathon on 11th May, the Westonbirt Sprint Triathlon on 27th May and the Bowood House Triathlon on 20th June. She originally set out to raise £500 for the appeal, but smashed her target, raising £2,840.

Sarah spent five days in the RUH recovering after her major operation, after which she said:

“The care I received on the Charlotte Ward was fantastic, and I know we are all aware how hard nurses work, but it really isn’t until you see it that you really do appreciate just how hard. The whole nursing team, healthcare assistants, cleaners and volunteers on the wards work tirelessly for hours doing a simply amazing job. They showered me, fed and watered me, mopped up my tears and comforted me when it all became too much. And believe me, it did! I cannot thank them all enough.

“My whole experience and journey through different areas within the hospital was pretty much faultless. As a part of the process I also met with the Clinical Psychologist. His support was invaluable both before, after and during my hospital stays. He even appeared within an hour of me returning to the ward after surgery to check I was OK. The care and compassion of my surgeon and Breast nurse made a whole world of difference in making my experience much more manageable.”

With the support of fundraisers like Sarah, we hope to reach our £450,000 target for the refurbishment and expansion of Breast Unit, which sees around 6,000 outpatient referrals to the unit every year. Of these patients, around 400 will be treated for cancer.

The NHS is providing £1m to fund new equipment in the Breast Unit, and donations from our charity will pay for a new area for mammographic and MRI reporting, an improved waiting area and peace garden, enlarged consultation suites and the space to deliver survivorship care to patients after treatment.

Can you support us? If you’ve been a patient or have a loved one who has been treated in the Breast Unit and want to give something back, please click here for more details of how to get involved.

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Why I supported RUH Will Month

Why I give my support to RUH Will Month – by Heather Kirby, RUH patient

Whilst I was having Radiotherapy at the RUH, I became interested in the hospital’s charity, The  Forever Friends Appeal. Knowing one of their fundraising campaigns was to fund towards the building of a new pioneering Cancer Centre, I wanted to show my support.  I wanted to give something back to the RUH for all they had done for me and the marvellous care and support I have received.

I heard about their annual RUH Will Month scheme and although I had a Will, it was in serious need of updating. RUH Will Month enabled me to have my Will updated by a professional solicitor at a reduced fee, which was then donated back to the  hospital’s charity. I loved the idea as I was able to get my affairs in order and have the knowledge that I was giving back to my hospital and will help to continue providing exceptional care for its patients and their families, just like it did for me. Here’s my story:

I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in January 2012. My journey started at Christmas in 2011 when I was in the bath and felt a lump in my breasts.   I visited my doctor the very next day who immediately booked me an appointment for the Breast Clinic at my local hospital, the RUH.

After examinations and tests, I was told the news that it was Cancer and I was immediately put on a course of tablets to see if the tumour would shrink.  Unfortunately this did not happen and I was giving the devastating news that I had to have a full mastectomy, followed two weeks later having all my lymph nodes removed in my armpit.

After the operation, I had six sessions of Chemotherapy but I was lucky, as I fortunately didn’t have too many side effects.  However, during this treatment I felt very restless, unable to concentrate and found it extremely difficult to read, watch television or even hold a conversation with anyone for long, including my friends. A month later, I had 20 days of Radiotherapy which left me extremely weary and by session number 15, I was only able to do things in small amounts before becoming extremely exhausted.

I made a decision to accept the Cancer and put on a fight, as I could either sink or swim and no way was the Cancer taking over my life and let it defeat me.  I would ask questions and had lots of support from friends and neighbours who helped me cope.

RUH Will Month is a great opportunity to not only make or update your Will at a reduced cost by Professional Will Writers and provide you with peace of mind, but it is an opportunity to support your local hospital now and in the future.

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Simon Callow backs RUH Will Month

Actor, writer and theatre director Simon Callow is backing The Forever Friends Appeal’s RUH Will Month scheme. From today people can make their Will writing appointment for September with participating solicitors.

He paid a visit to the Royal United Hospitals (RUH) Bath earlier this year to see how the support from generous solicitor firms who with the general public has helped transform patient care through this very importance fundraising initiative.

Simon Callow said:

“It’s terribly important, for every possible reason, for all of us to have an up-to-date Will. If you haven’t got one, help is at hand as part of the Forever Friends Appeal Will writing scheme. RUH Will Month is a great opportunity to have a Will written to professional standards. It costs less and helps support your wonderful local hospital. Do take advantage of this really excellent Will writing offer.”

This year, fourteen participating solicitor firms across Bath, Bristol, North East Somerset and Wiltshire have joined the RUH Will Month scheme. They will prepare and draw up a professional Will for you at a reduced fee – £100 for a single standard Will and £150 for a standard Mirror Wills or joint Wills.

Jan Witt, In Memory & Legacy Officer, The Forever Friends Appeal said:

“It may come as a surprise that fewer than half of the population have an up-to-date Will, despite its importance in offering you peace of mind and security for both you and your family.  Often having a Will written can be expensive, therefore, we’d like to urge people to take advantage of our Will writing scheme to ensure your savings, possessions and wishes are respected in the future and giving you peace of mind now.

“By taking part in RUH Will Month you are also helping to support your local hospital as the solicitors waive their fees and are instead donated to our charity. This means that you can decide where the fee is donated – whether it goes towards one of our fundraising campaigns or to a specific ward or department that you have a special connection with.”

To take part in RUH Will Month, simply call any one of the participating solicitors listed here and make an appointment quoting ‘RUH Will Month. Alternatively, for more information contact Jan Witt on 01225 825819 or email jan.witt@nhs.net

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Football match scores for charity

Two brothers from Melksham have raised over £1,500 for The Forever Friends Appeal.

Corey Blackmore and his brother Haken held a charity football in memory of their grandad who passed away in 2017. The game took place at Odd Down Sports Ground in Bath on what was the hottest day so far this year.

Corey, aged 22 and Haken, aged 19 were the team captains and the final score was 7:6, with the reds winning. The game saw more than £330 raised by their supporters.

Emma Blackmore, Corey and Haken’s mother said:

“As a family we would like to thank everyone for their generosity and support, especially Jack from Leisure Leagues Trowbridge. He organised the official referee for the game and donated the medals and trophy as well as the champagne for the finale.

“Their grandad, Brian Hartley would be so proud of his grandsons for raising money for the RUH who cared for him so well, during the last year he was with us. They are now putting plans together to organise next year’s replay.”

Maddy Jones, Senior Events Fundraiser said:

“We first met Corey and Haken last year when they took part in our Skydive Day to mark their 21st and 18th birthdays. They raised an incredible £1,225 and we are delighted to have their continued support. The funds raised will be donated towards the hospital’s most urgent campaigns and appeals.

“If you’re inspired by Corey and Haken’s success, check out our events listed on our website. If you take part you can choose to fundraise for either one of our campaigns or a ward or department that’s close to your heart. You can sign up to our overseas trek to India, run in next year’s Bath Half or take part in our Walk of Life event.

“We will be holding our annual outdoor cinema in Royal Victoria Park on the evening of 31 August. We will be showing Bohemian Rhapsody on the big screen and everyone’s invited. There will be bucket collection on the night for people to make a contribution.”

This year is a special one for The Forever Friends Appeal as they celebrate 20 years of fundraising for the RUH. Thanks to their committed and generous supporters, like Corey and Haken, over £25m has been raised to invest in projects that go above and beyond what NHS funding can provide, including additional medical equipment, new building and facilities.

To find out how you can support The Forever Friends Appeal click here

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