The Health Tree Foundation The Health Tree Foundation

£52,000 investment to cancer treatment

National charity Walk the Walk has donated £52,000 to The Health Tree Foundation to buy new equipment for patients needing cancer chemotherapy treatment.

Walk the Walk is the largest grant-making breast cancer charity in the UK. It raises funds through large walks across the world in aid of breast cancer, including The MoonWalk London and The MoonWalk Scotland, with walkers taking on marathon challenges wearing brightly decorated bras.  

One of the Walk the Walk projects is a commitment to provide funding to hospitals across the UK to purchase scalp cooling equipment.

Scalp coolers are special machines which are helping many people undergoing chemotherapy to retain their hair.

Over the last nine years Walk the Walk has provided more than £7million in grants to NHS Trusts and hospitals across the UK in order for all hospitals to be able to offer this treatment.

The application, submitted by Macmillan oncology lead nurse Karen Smith, was granted £52,000 specifically for scalp cooling equipment.

Four scalp coolers have been purchased for the oncology departments at Northern Lincolnshire and Goole NHS Foundation Trust - three for the Amethyst Unit at the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital and one for ward 18 at Scunthorpe General Hospital.

Hair loss is often one of the most distressing and visually noticeable effects of some chemotherapy drugs for patients diagnosed with cancer. For most patients the fear of hair loss can be so significant they may choose to decline potentially curative chemotherapy.

Scalp cooling can be successfully used to prevent or reduce the amount of hair loss associated with certain chemotherapy drugs dependent on the patient’s diagnosis, as scalp cooling is not indicated in certain types of cancer.

The scalp cooler comes with a pink fitted cap that people must wear before, during and after chemotherapy. The machines come with caps in all different sizes and black caps are now available for men.

Anita Glover is a cancer patient at Diana, Princess of Wales hospital and she has been using the scalp cooling machine.

Anita said: “There is still a bit of thinning but it’s much better than it all falling out, losing my hair was the hardest part for me and even if it delays the time wearing a wig it’s worth it.”

She joked: “I’m just hoping it makes me brainier.”

Anita has been a patient on the Amethyst Unit for the last 18 years. She was first treated by Karen Smith in 1998 for ovarian cancer. The treatment was successful and the cancer stayed away for many years before returning recently.

Both Anita and her husband Alan have been treated for cancer at the Amethyst Unit and make a regular donation of sweets to the unit to support patients.

Alan said: “We really like coming here; we feel like part of the family, we get on so well with all of the staff they are just so wonderful.”

Karen Smith said: “Hair loss is so devastating for patients, to be able to offer the scalp coolers to help patients means so much to them. We are so grateful to Walk the Walk for this wonderful grant.

“So far we have had very positive feedback from patients and nursing staff who have used the system.”

Nina Barough CBE, founder and chief executive of Walk the Walk said: “I have seen for myself just how utterly devastating hair loss can be for cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy, so I am absolutely delighted that Walk the Walk has been able to do something very tangible to help improve the overall experience of cancer treatment for the people at both the Diana, Princess of Wales Hospital and Scunthorpe General Hospital. What makes it very special is that it has all been achieved by our walkers and supporters taking on a challenge and putting one foot in front of another, so everybody really is benefiting.”

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