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Life-changing £600,000 appeal to improve cancer patient treatment launches

spotlight appeal launch

A new major fundraising campaign to buy state-of-the-art radiotherapy equipment for treating cancer patients across mid and south Essex was launched on Thursday 23 February.

If successful, the Spotlight Radiotherapy Appeal will mean that Southend Hospital would be among one of the first NHS cancer centres to have this cutting-edge technology; providing superior, ground-breaking radiation oncology treatment to over 2,500 patients a year by 2025.

Southend Hospital Charitable Foundation, which has funded big building projects and vital medical equipment over the last 25 years, is behind the campaign and needs to raise £600,000 to buy three surface guided radiation therapy (SGRT) systems.

More than 90 regular supporters, volunteers and trustees of the Foundation attended the Spotlight Appeal launch event at Southend Hospital to hear from clinicians about the benefits of SGRT. The new technology tracks a patient’s position with pinpoint accuracy during treatment, making sure that radiation reaches exactly the right place while avoiding vital organs.

The new technology will also help cut treatment times and waiting lists because SGRT reduces the need for repeat imaging. 

Current radiotherapy means patients have at least three small tattoos to position them correctly – leaving them with a permanent reminder of their cancer treatment – but that would no longer be needed with the SGRT system, which tracks the skin’s surface using special infrared 3D cameras to ensure patients are always in the correct position.

Patients receiving radiotherapy to the head, neck or throat can also wear an open-faced mask, which is less claustrophobic than the current full-face mask.

Karen Liesching-Schroder, 50, a former patient at Southend’s cancer care unit, explained how this new equipment would make such a big difference to the lives of patient receiving treatment. 

Karen, from Rochford, was treated with radiotherapy in 2016, following surgery to remove a portion of her tongue after being diagnosed with tongue cancer. This meant she had to wear a bespoke, full-face mask during all 30 of her radiotherapy sessions.

She said: “I remember having the mask placed over my head, neck and shoulders and then clamped down on my first session, I felt so claustrophobic,” said the Mouth Cancer Foundation Support Group administrator.

“Knowing that SGRT will mean an end to full-face masks is such a positive, I know that it would have made a huge difference to my experience.

"Wearing the full-face covering was the most traumatic experience I have ever encountered. I did everything I had to, but I felt trapped and dreaded every one of my 30 radiotherapy sessions with the mask.”

Nicky Whilde, Head of Radiotherapy Physics at Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust said: “Every year the number of cancer patients needing treatment is increasing. With this amazing appeal, it is hoped that by 2025, all patients receiving radiotherapy across mid and south Essex will have access to safer, less invasive, and more precise treatment for many years to come.

“It is amazing that the Charitable Foundation has launched this appeal, as it will help give our patients undergoing radiotherapy treatment something absolutely priceless to them, the very best possible experience in terms of comfort, speed and accuracy.”

Emma Wynne-Morgan, Deputy Chair of Trustees for the Charitable Foundation said: “It has been 25 years since the Charitable Foundation was founded and, in that time, it has raised nearly £5 million to benefit patients and help to transform patient care. We are delighted to be launching this appeal, which will ensure the very latest radiotherapy treatment for the people of Southend and beyond.”

To read more about the appeal please visit, or to find out how you can get involved in fundraising please email  

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