By Dan King - Newcastle United Club Reporter
Magpies striker Shola Ameobi has opened a new cancer treatment unit at North Tyneside General Hospital.
The popular frontman visited the custom-built unit on Friday and planted a tree to mark the start of work on a special garden for patients receiving treatment at the unit before unveiling a plaque to commemorate the official opening.
He also met patients including artist Emily Ward, who has donated her time after treatment to give a large painting on the unit, and volunteers Margaret Henry, who has provided complimentary therapies for patients for the last eleven years, and Elsie Grounsell and her team who support patients with help and advice about hair loss.
The new unit has dedicated facilities offering a wide range of treatments including chemotherapy and some of the newer drugs now available from the Cancer Drug Fund.
Clinical psychologists and a consultant pharmacist for cancer services are available for cancer patients, whilst Macmillan offer a range of nursing, information and benefits advice ensuring holistic assessment and care. Patients can have treatment for toxicity management, symptom control and other procedures such as blood transfusions, reducing the need for patients to stay in hospital.
There are single procedure rooms ensuring privacy and dignity for cancer patients and the environment throughout is bright and modern. The two large chemotherapy treatment bays are furnished with specially designed chairs to meet a wide variety of patients' needs - comfortable reclining chairs to make patients feel at home and the therapy room has been decorated to provide a tranquil oasis.
Day Unit manager Allison Nielsen said: "Our patients can feel very vulnerable so we wanted to make sure we have a bright and positive feel to the unit, hence the comfortable chairs and soft furnishings. The fact that the unit has its own entrance with convenient parking is really important for them too."