First cancer patients check out new therapy suite created thanks to the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation

A dedicated therapy centre created with the backing of the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation to help ease the stress of cancer treatment has been put to the test by patients.

Robert Allen in the Complementary Therapy Suite with Angela Jackson.
Robert Allen in the Complementary Therapy Suite with Angela Jackson.

Sir Bobby was one of thousands to benefit from receiving complementary therapy during his cancer treatment at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care (NCCC) at the Freeman Hospital, Newcastle, where therapists use gentle touch and relaxation techniques to help patient to reduce anxiety, improve their sleep and provide emotional support and relief from pain.

They rely completely on charitable support and when the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation launched in 2008, helping fund the complementary therapy service was one of the first grants made and has since continued every year since.

The official opening of the new Complementary Therapy Suite, left to right, Robert Allen, 39, a cancer partient from Washington, Angela Jackson, a complementary therapy lead, Dame Jackie Daniel, Chief Executive of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Shola Ameobi, Lady Elsie, Professor Sir John Burn, Chairman of Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Tommy Moralee, 78, who is also receiving cancer treatment.

In that decade, the foundation has contributed £136,000 to help fund the team, who have treated around 22,000 patients so far.

Now, along with the Complementary Therapy Fund and Ward 33 Charitable Fund, which like the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation are both funds within the Newcastle Hospitals NHS Charity, and in partnership with the Newcastle upon Tyne NHS Trust, has contributed to the creation of a dedicated Complementary Therapy Suite.

Transformed from a former office, the colours, materials and design details are inspired by nature to create a relaxing environment, which deliberately removed from a typical cancer treatment room, with the project was headed up by Angela Jackson, the complementary therapy team lead.

Among those invited to be the first through its doors was Robert Allen, 39, from Washington, who is currently receiving treatment for AML leukaemia.

Shola Ameobi receiving reflexology from Angela Jackson in the Complementary Therapy Suite.

After his recovery, the former non-destructive test technician plans to retrain as a computer graphics artist.

Robert, who is married to Kimberley, said: “I’ve had two bone marrow transplants.

“One when I was first diagnosed in 2013 and again this year, and I wish I’d known about the complementary therapy service from the start.

“When the leukaemia reoccurred this year, my doctor recommended the service to help with the migraines and neck pain I was experiencing.

The late Sir Bobby Robson receiving reflexology from Angela Jackson, a complementary therapy lead, in the Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Trials Research Centre.

“The back and shoulder massages have really helped and Angela makes you feel really comfortable and at ease.

“It’s very relaxing and takes you away from everyday stresses of chemo and treatment.”

Angela Jackson added: “This has been a labour of love for me and I’m so happy that the suite is complete.

“Obviously, everything has to meet the same clinical standards as the rest of the hospital but it was so important that this space feel different from a normal treatment room.

“Hearing patients say they forget they’re in the hospital when they’re in here is music to our ears.

Angela and her team use techniques including aromatherapy, reflexology, Indian head massage, gentle touch, which is a form of reiki, supportive listening and gentle hand, foot and shoulder massage.

Shola Ameobi, who played under Sir Bobby at Newcastle United, also attended the unveiling event.

The total cost of the Complementary Therapy Suite was £8,401.

With a grant of £4,222, the foundation funded the equipment and furniture for the new suite, including the electronic treatment bed and dual motor recliner chair, and the Complementary Therapy Fund - £6,000 - and Ward 33 Charitable Fund - £2,401 - provided the remaining funding.