Two related events are due to take place in Brighton today (Tuesday 18 March).
They promise to make a difference to the lives of people with cancer – and their families – for many years to come.
The first is a ceremonial turf-cutting to mark the start of work on building the new Sussex Macmillan Cancer Support Centre.
The £6 million building is going up in Bristol Gate, opposite the Sussex Cancer Centre where thousands of patients are currently treated each year.
The second event is being held at the American Express Community Stadium – or the Amex – in Falmer. Macmillan Cancer Support is hosting an event with a dual purpose.
On the one hand it will be a celebration of the success so far of the campaign to raise money for the cancer support centre. Donors will be thanked.
But it will also be the start of a big push to raise the final £1.27 million needed before the support centre can open next year.
Macmillan already profits from a link with the Amex thanks to the thousands of Brighton and Hove Albion fans who enjoy a pint on matchdays.
The Lewes brewery Harveys supplies Albion Ale to the stadium, with the charity receiving 5p a bottle.
Macmillan is working on the cancer support centre with the Sussex Cancer Fund.
The two charities have committed to putting up most of the £6 million cost of building the support centre.
But the land and £400,000 is coming from Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs the Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Sussex Cancer Centre.
The cancer support centre has been designed with input from people who have been affected by cancer themselves.
Patients and carers will be able to use the centre for specialist cancer information and advice, practical support, dietary advice and physical activity support.
Counselling will be available as will complementary therapies and advice about welfare benefits.
Patients who have lost their hair will be able to have wigs fitted. And they will be able to receive advice about skin and hair care.
There will also be space for self-help and support groups. The centre will also link up existing information and support services across Sussex to ensure that cancer patients, families, carers and friends in the county can find the support they need at the time they need it most.
Macmillan said: “There is an urgent need in Sussex. The total number of people in the county living with or beyond cancer is set to almost double between 2010 and 2030 from 60,996 to 121,400.”
Research carried out by the charity suggested that one in five cancer sufferers in the area had not been given the right information and support.
It said: “On average, of the 7,000 people diagnosed with cancer every year in Sussex, 1,400 of them are given little or no information about their illness or the treatment options.”
A cancer diagnosis can leave people feeling shocked, upset and isolated, the charity said.
Patients or people close to them often need questions answered, emotional support or simply someone to listen and help with the things that matter.
Macmillan’s area fundraising manager for Sussex, Robert Moon, said: “A team of specialists at the new centre will offer all round support for people living with cancer in a calm, friendly and welcoming environment – so no one in Sussex has to face cancer alone.”
When Macmillan started its fundraising appeal for the support centre, the oncologist – or cancer specialist – Dr George Deutsch, chairman of the Sussex Cancer Fund, said: “For over 25 years the Sussex Cancer Fund has successfully improved the Sussex Cancer Centre with expenditure of nearly £3 million.
“The fund will require continued support to fulfil our commitment to pay for the (cancer support centre) staff and other regular costs.”
Last week he said: “I am delighted that we’re about to start building the centre. It will provide a vital component of care for Sussex patients and their families.”
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