CANCER patients are benefiting from £4.7m raised for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Officially announcing the total raised by fundraisers and donors since it was set up in 2008, Sir Bobby’s widow Lady Elsie met with patients yesterday at the foundation’s cancer research centre.
Opened in 2009, the centre at the Freeman Hospital offers cancer patients the chance to trial new drugs.
Lady Elsie said: “We can only help the experts find better ways to detect and treat cancer with help from all the generous people who support us and I’m very grateful to everyone who has contributed in any way.
“The foundation continues to be a great team effort against cancer and this has really been a great year for that team. No doubt Bob would compare it to winning the league.”
This year has seen the foundation use £850,00 of its funds to help buy new life-saving cyber surgery equipment. Only the second of its type in the UK the Varian TrueBeam STx will dramatically improve the accuracy of radiotherapy treatment.
Along with the latest advances in cancer-fighting equipment the centre carries out clinical trials on drugs, some in the first stages of development and some about to become registered for use.
Centre director Prof Ruth Plummer, who was also Sir Bobby’s oncologist, said: “We have three drugs we’ll be testing over the next few months, one that has never been given to humans. We are a big hospital so have back-up on site if it is needed. We look at the dose and any side effects drugs might have.
“When patients come to the centre they know there is uncertainty but they are prepared to take that chance. It is amazing what people do and by taking part they are helping someone in the future.”
One patient testing a drug is 43-year- old Mark Rankin from Fenham, Newcastle, who was diagnosed six years ago with a rare form of bowel cancer.
Mark, father to 11-year-old Katie, said: “When I was first diagnosed there was the shock and then fear. I had an operation to remove the tumour but it came back.
“I’ve never had chemotherapy but doctors decided to put me on a new drug similar, but in a tablet form. It can affect everyone differently but the side effects for me are minimal. I take it every day and it’s like taking a vitamin. Before embarking on this, I had all the facts and figures and see being on the different cancer treatment as a positive thing.”
After a successful 2012 the charity will in February stage Sir Bobby Robson – A Celebration at the Sage – on what would have been the legend’s 80th birthday.