Army officer, father-of-two and marathon runner Kevin Simmons was determined to continue to live life to the full, despite undergoing chemotherapy treatment for cancer.
He is one of thousands of cancer patients at UCH who are benefiting from a method of treatment which allows them to carry on their normal routine, as much as possible.
One week every month he would travel by train from his home in Hereford to the outpatients department of UCH, where he would receive his dose of chemotherapy. It was administered via a continuous drip from a specially adapted pump, hidden in a satchel.
"Fitness is so much a part of my life and the thought of spending days on end effectively inactive on a hospital ward was hard to bear. Ambulatory care meant I could come into the hospital for periods of treatment and then leave again whilst receiving further doses of chemotherapy via a pump.
"It gave me the freedom to visit the local shops and cafes and maintain some sort of normality. I would then stay overnight in a nearby hotel. The whole regime was superb and without doubt aided my recovery. It also gave my family somewhere to stay whilst visiting and supporting me"
UCLH was the first hospital trust in the country to introduce the ambulatory care system in 2005, an idea imported from America.
It is set to expand when UCLH opens its new cancer centre in 2012, giving patients more freedom to manage their lives whilst undergoing treatment.
Mr Simmons was referred to UCH by his local hospital after tumours were discovered in his lower abdomen. It was the third relapse of cancer he had suffered since 2000.
Following chemotherapy treatment, Mr Simmons underwent an autologous transplant whereby stem cells were harvested from his body. After more chemotherapy, the stem cells were reinfused back into him to help keep his disease in remission.
"They told me that if anyone could help me – it would be the doctors at UCH. The ambulatory care I received gave me freedom to continue my life but it was reassuring to know that the ambulatory team were close by. They knew what I was going through and for every one of my questions, they always had an answer. The nursing staff were simply outstanding"
- Currently under construction, the UCH Macmillan Cancer Centre will open in 2012 in Huntley Street, London. The building has been designed around the needs of patients with different cancers, and will have floors dedicated to specific types of cancer ensuring we meet patients’ needs. Our goal is to improve quality of outcomes and the patient experience by focusing on holistic wellbeing as well as cure.
- It will be located opposite the University College London (UCL) Cancer Institute in Huntley Street to maximise the potential for translational research and will be connected to University College Hospital offering other forms of cancer treatment.