'Fantastic' cancer unit for young people opens at Leicester Royal Infirmary
A children and young people's cancer unit has been officially opened at Leicester Royal Infirmary.
Olympic runner Lisa Dobriskey was guest of honour at the event yesterday.
It marked the culmination of the £1.4 million Our Space appeal by the hospitals charity and Teenage Cancer Trust, with backing from the Robbie Anderson Cancer Trust.
Lisa, from Loughborough, agreed to open the unit after hearing about the development from running friend Gemma Hillier, also from Loughborough, who was diagnosed with Burkitt's lymphoma last year.
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She said: "It is very humbling and a great privilege to be asked to open something as important as this.
"It is easy for me to think that running is the be all and end all, and when you see this unit and what Gemma has been through, it does put things in to perspective."
The unit has a dedicated area for children, with a four-bed bay, three en-suite rooms and large playroom with televisions.
Next to this are separate medical and recreational facilities for patients aged 13 to 24.
These feature a two-bed bay and three single en-suite rooms, including a chill-out room and area to make snacks.
Charlie Richardson, from Thurcaston, is one of the first patients to be treated on the unit, which replaced Ward 27.
The 20-year-old was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma in November and his treatment began just before Christmas.
He said: "I haven't been an inpatient but do have to come in every few weeks for treatment.
"The facilities are fantastic, really good.
"Although I didn't see the old ward, you can tell what impact this new unit is having."
The unit has also made a big difference to the parents of Harvey Oldfield-Goode, from Northampton, who was first admitted four months ago with a rare lung tumour.
Dad Simon said: "This place is amazing. We can stay in the same room as Harvey now, whereas before we sometimes had to have a camp bed in the playroom.
"We are hoping if Harvey's treatment goes well we will soon be able to take him home."
Kevin Anderson, from Coleorton, whose son Robbie died aged 13 in 2006 after being diagnosed with cancer two years earlier, said: "This unit is going to make such a big difference.
"Robbie loved to be with his friends and he felt very isolated in hospital and wanted to raise money for items, such as a plasma television.
"His legacy has carried on."
The Robbie Anderson Cancer Trust donated more than £100,000 to the appeal.
Simon Davies, chief executive of the Teenage Cancer Trust, said the opening of the unit was "a very special moment".
He said: "It is our 25th unit in the country and we would like to get one into every area."