Cancer patients and staff inspired by US visit

Tuesday 17 June 2014

Diana Crawshaw with Dina from the Johns Hopkins Hope

Patients and staff leading the development of a new Cancer Centre at Guy’s Hospital have recently returned from an inspiring visit to the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at the world famous Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

The trip to the States was led by Professor Arnie Purushotham, breast cancer surgeon and Director of King’s Health Partners Integrated Cancer Centre.

He was accompanied by Diana Crawshaw, who chairs the Patient Reference Group for the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s, Mairead Griffin who is Deputy Chief Nurse for cancer services at Guy's and St Thomas’, and Jerrina Eteen, a lay member of the King’s Health Partners Cancer Clinical Academic Group Executive Board.

Professor Purusthotham says: “It was an enormous pleasure to visit the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins. Our colleagues, patients and carers in Baltimore welcomed us and shared their experiences and thoughts on patient-centred care.

“This was a wonderful opportunity to learn more about their work and for us to share our experiences with them. It gave me great pleasure to observe that Diana, Jerrina and Mairead found the trip exhilarating and hugely worthwhile. We all returned buzzing with enthusiasm and fresh ideas to take forward on behalf of our patients and their families.”

Diana Crawshaw chairs the group which ensures the involvement of cancer patients and survivors in the development of the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s which is due to open in 2016 - she reflects on what she learned from her visit to the Sidney Kimmel Center.

“As patient representative I had given my report at a meeting of the Programme Board for the new Cancer Centre at Guy’s. I explained that David, a fellow member of the Patient Reference Group, had suggested looking at other local cancer centres to observe their development which seemed a good idea.

“I sat back to listen but not for long because Arnie Purushotham turned to me and said, ‘I would like you to visit a world class centre - I will arrange for you to do this’. This sounded an amazing offer and, visualising a train journey to Leeds or Manchester, I gratefully accepted.

“How wrong I was because on 31 May, with Arnie, Mairead Griffin and Jerrina Eteen, I was on my way to Baltimore to visit the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Centre.

“Its mission statement is ‘To be a world leader in the delivery of healthcare’ and ‘To provide the highest quality care and service for all people in the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer’.

“It was an awe inspiring experience to walk into this centre for the first time. Sunday 1 June was National Cancer Survivors Day and many people were there to celebrate this. Carers were particularly highlighted.

“As a cancer survivor myself, I felt a strong feeling of togetherness. I stopped at a stall decorated with sunflowers. These represented the John Hopkins Hope Project whose mission it is to promote and encourage a sense of hope in the Centre.

“After speaking with Dina and Robin who pioneered the project, Dina picked up a hat which she had made from the stall and said, ‘I would like to give this to you as a symbol of hope between the patients at our cancer centre and the patients at your cancer centre - joining us across the Atlantic’.

“The hat travelled well and will be worn at the next Patient Reference Group meeting. Since then Dina and I have exchanged emails. She and many others want to be kept update with the progress of our new Cancer Centre at Guy’s.

“Celebrations on 1 June culminated with a professionally directed Fashion Show, organised and modelled by cancer survivors, which was an inspiring and exuberant event.

“The planned itinerary for the next three days was extremely concentrated and comprehensive with so many innovative ideas, inspirational people, and endless opportunities to ask questions and share experiences.

“This visit was a great privilege, not only being able to experience first-hand the ethos of John Hopkins but also having the opportunity to share this patient experience with others to enhance the vision we have for our own world class Cancer Centre at Guy’s.”

Last updated: June 2014

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