I'll set up cancer rehabilitation centre in memory of my John'
A SHIREHAMPTON widow wants to set up the city's first cancer rehabilitation centre in memory of her husband.
Carole Dillon decided to start a charity to fund the project after her husband John's experiences while being treated for cancer.
Mr Dillon had lung cancer but it was not discovered until it had already spread to his brain. He died last May.
It was after surgery to remove the tumours in his brain that Mr Dillon spent time in a south Bristol rehabilitation unit.
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But his wife said that the centre was not suitable for his age or his health needs as most of the other people there were elderly and she feels there is a desperate need for a dedicated rehabilitation centre for adults with cancer.
Mr Dillon was diagnosed with cancer in January 2010 after he was rushed to Bristol Royal Infirmary because his wife was concerned he had suffered a stroke.
Instead doctors said the symptoms of his arm drooping and dragging his leg were the result of a brain tumour.
It was after more tests in hospital that Mr Dillon's 2.3cm lung tumour was discovered.
Doctors thought it had probably been growing for 12 to 18 months.
After surgery to remove the brain tumour at Frenchay Hospital Mr Dillon could not move and it was decided that he would need to stay in a rehabilitation unit before he could return to the couple's home, which was in Hartcliffe at the time.
Mrs Dillon said: "He was in hospital for a month because they were trying to find somewhere to send him.
"In the end they sent him to a rehabilitation unit in south Bristol – where my mum has been.
"They took people from about 45 but the majority of patients in there were elderly.
Mrs Dillon said that when her husband returned home and his rehabilitation was dealt with by a community team things improved greatly.
Mr Dillon died at home with the support of the St Peter's Hospice at Home team.
It was after his death that Mrs Dillon came up with her plans for a rehabilitation centre while talking to the surgeon who removed his brain tumour.
"I was explaining where John went for rehab after surgery and he said the ideal situation would be for a cancer rehab centre in Bristol, so I said I would do it," she said.
"He said 'if you can do this it will be absolutely marvellous'. I came out of there on my high horse, determined to do it, it wasn't until I got home that I realised what it was going to involve.
"I will probably need about £45 million – the cost of the new hospital in south Bristol – but I feel that I have got to do this.
"When John came out of hospital he would have loved something like this to have been there so much.
"In my head this centre will be a bit like a mini hospital, with beds for someone like John who needs it but will also have a day centre for rehabilitation with occupational therapists, specialist doctors and nurses and neuro-physiotherapists who know about the needs of people with cancer. When he was in the rehab unit they said that some of the staff don't know enough about people with cancer."
Mrs Dillon said that more than anything she wants the centre to be "uplifting".
"I don't want people to be sitting in their rooms on their own, unless they want to, I want them to be able to mix with other people and to keep their brains stimulated.
"I feel I have got to do something positive and I think in the future it will be amazing."
Mrs Dillon has been backed in her plans by her local MP Charlotte Leslie, who said she was moved by her determination.
"I will be talking with health officials and doctors now to establish exactly what is needed, where it is needed and how much it would cost," Ms Leslie said.
"In the meantime, I would urge people to support Carole as she tries to bring this vital issue into the public eye."
For more information about the charity work visit www.johndillonfoundation.org.