Pupils and staff from St Martin’s School, Northwood visited Mount Vernon Cancer Centre on Tuesday 25th November 2014, where they were presented with a plaque in recognition of all their hard work raising enough funds to purchase 20 iPads. Mount Vernon Cancer Centre provides Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy and Palliative Care services to a population of almost 2 million from Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and London.
The iPads delivered by the school will be available for patients to use across the centre whilst they receive their treatment. During the visit the pupils aged between 7 and 13 met with Consultants and Radiographers who talked about some of the work at Mount Vernon, before they toured the centre and extensive facilities. The pupils also had the opportunity to meet with patients who were keen to hear all about their fundraising exploits. Staff were delighted to hear a number of boys expressing an interest in careers in medicine in the future!
Mr Tidmarsh, Mrs Heath and I thoroughly enjoyed this very special visit, which represented the culmination of our fund-raising activities during the 2013-2014 academic year. We took boys from each section of the school with us, as this appeal had involved the whole school community. Dr Nicola Anyamene, a consultant oncologist at the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre and who is also a St Martin’s parent, asked whether we would raise money to purchase a set of iPads for use by patients at the Centre. Their treatment can be lengthy so to have an iPad to use during their waiting time would be much appreciated.
Our fund-raising began in the Autumn Term, with retiring collections from the various Christmas entertainments and the Carol Service at Holy Trinity School. In March, we had our Charity Day, when Dr Anyamene and Mrs David (another former St Martin’s parent) came to explain to the boys about the work of the centre. They explained why it would be of such benefit to the patients to have the use of an iPad during their treatment. Another highlight of Charity Day was the St Martin’s Staff Got Talent Show, which was greatly enjoyed by boys and staff alike. Our final fund-raising event was World Cup Day when boys took part in a number of football related activities, including watching England play and eating pizza.
The seven boys who accompanied us to make the presentation were a real credit to the school. They answered questions, chatted to staff and patients with interest and ease, and of course, appreciated the refreshments! As you will read in their comments below, we were given a lovely welcome as well as taken on a tour of the Centre and given the opportunity to meet patients. Thank you to all who supported our appeal in aid of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre.
Mrs Gill Buckley (On behalf of the Charity Working Group)
We were excited to have the opportunity to represent St Martin’s as part of our fund-raising project in aid of the Mount Vernon Cancer Centre. We arrived unsure of what to expect of the Cancer Centre and its patients. First of all, we visited a cinema room within the cancer centre; we were given 3D glasses with which we watched two short introductory videos, followed by images of the “CyberKnife” which was also demonstrated by Dr Anyamene.
The Mount Vernon Cancer Centre has the first CyberKnife in the NHS. It delivers a high-dose radiation to tumours with pin-point accuracy. This gives the Cancer Centre more treatment options for its patients, especially those with cancers that are hard to treat. Since an overdose of radiation is very dangerous, shown by a spread of radiation from bombings in 1945, the Cancer Centre has a thick lead door to stop the radiation spreading throughout the hospital. We learnt that the Centre is one of the leading cancer centres in the UK.
We then visited the Lynda Jackson Centre at Mount Vernon where patients receive chemotherapy in a large room and where they are visited by friends and family during that time. Before we entered that room, Dr Anyamene asked us what we thought the patients would look like – we were unsure of course. When we entered, all the patients were open to talk and were very grateful for our donation and asked how we had raised the money. We told them it was through doing various fun activities to raise funds for a worthy cause.
The 20 iPads engraved with St Martins’ logo were presented to Dr Anyamene and the hospital presented us with a plaque thanking us for our donations.
I was surprised by how much of an impact a small gesture can make to people’s lives, especially those awaiting lengthy treatments at the Centre. And that is what made my day, seeing that if each of us does something (however small), together we can make a great impact and a real difference.
Vincent M (8IM)
As we entered the Hospital, we were led into a room full of computers. We discussed the two main treatments for Cancer; Radiography and Chemotherapy. We saw a virtual simulation of radiotherapy in action; learning about how the machine uses lasers and x-rays to pinpoint areas of tissue infected by Cancer. After that, we went to see a CyberKnife machine, which was operated by a team of radiotherapists. The machine was very advanced and it alone would come to a total cost of just under two million pounds. Lastly we went over to the Lynda Jackson Centre, and saw some patients who were having Chemotherapy. They were calm and relaxed, not at all how I imagined them. All the Nurses were kind and helpful. Patients were also wearing a helmet which had an interior temperature of approximately minus five degrees, a method of cooling the scalp to prevent hair loss during Cancer. All of us in the room had a laugh as Mr Tidmarsh, Vincent and I tried on the helmet and reacted to its freezing temperature.
By Ali Y (6SD)
Firstly, we all watched a video about a special piece of equipment, called the CyberKnife, which is an advanced radiotherapy treatment delivery system that provides a non-invasive alternative to surgery for the treatment of both cancerous and non-cancerous tumours anywhere in the body. We walked around the hospital and saw the waiting room and learnt what patients did while they waited. We were also taken to the CyberKnife room to look at the actual machine. Finally, we talked to patients in the Lynda Jackson Centre who told us that some treatments last for five/six weeks, they were taking very painful drugs every day, and it was sad their hair had fallen off. I enjoyed the visit very much. It was fascinating how people with cancer were treated.
By Keshav S (6MB)
First of all, we watched a video and had some biscuits. We were shown a radiotherapy machine and x-rays. The patients told us they were very happy and pleased to be getting the iPads. It was a very good visit.
By Dillan S (4SW)
When we entered, we met the Nurses and introduced ourselves. We watched a few 3D clips about cancer and radiography and also saw a CyberKnife machine. We enjoyed talking to patients in the Lynda Jackson Centre, who asked me to teach them how to operate the iPad. They were really friendly, kind and joyful and we talked about football too. One Patient told me that chemotherapy is not painful at all and he was allowed to go home but the glucose bag would remain attached to him for two more days so the medicine can go inside the body properly. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet cancer patients who are strongly fighting the disease with the help of new technology.
By Khush R (4SWa)
First of all, I saw a machine and patients wearing a cold hat! I also saw an x-ray machine to see where the cancer is and patients were lying down on a hard table. At the Lynda Jackson Centre, where Patients were having chemotherapy, they were very happy and told us “WOW, that’s a lot of iPads”. It takes 5 hours for their treatment and it was a long day for them, but it was a very good place.
By Dhan C (Year 2)
I watched three clips and had some jam tarts when we arrived. I learnt that some people who have cancer wear a cold helmet. A lady told us that she wears the helmet for four hours and it was filled with ice and water, the temperature had to be -5. We were shown where cancer medicine is stored and some medicines were kept in the fridge. I was happy for the people to play on the iPads! I really enjoyed going there.
By Niam S (Year 2)