In 2017, I was 74 when I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and it was recommended that I undergo a course of chemotherapy at St Mary’s Hospital in Newport. After that, I had regular MRI and blood tests to monitor my PSA levels (a blood test to detect prostate cancer), and in 2021 my consultant decided that I should undergo a course of 20 daily radiotherapy sessions at the QA Hospital in Portsmouth.
Being an Isle of Wight resident, the prospect of travelling from my home in Cowes, crossing the Solent, travelling to the hospital, parking and then finding when I needed to go was pretty daunting, so I was relieved when I discovered Wessex Cancer Trust’s Daisy Bus, It took all the worry out of getting to my appointments, but for me it became so much more.
As soon as I got on the bus as the ‘new boy’ I was amazed at how welcome I was made to feel. The bus driver, Lyn, takes her job so seriously. Not only is she an excellent driver, she takes responsibility for the initial contact and greets everyone with a smile and a cheery welcome. She gets to know all her passengers and cares about how they are; but more than that she creates a wonderful atmosphere on the bus where you all get to know each other and have a bit of banter. The bus I was on all bonded over Radio Two’s Pop Master quiz! You quickly realise you’re part of a close community and that helps to soothe any anxiety you might have about your hospital appointments. This was especially so as the Island residents undergoing treatment all met up at the Hovertravel terminal at Ryde for a morning chat and banter exchange before the journey to Portsmouth. Hovertravel gives preferential fares for cancer patients and also gives priority embarkation to Daisy Bus travellers, so you know you’ll get to your appointments on time.
In my case, the treatment only took about ten minutes, but because of the travelling I was often out of the house for about three hours of the day, so the convenience and comfort of the Daisy Bus really made things much easier. For me, having people going through a similar experience to talk to really helped to relieve the boredom. It helped, too, that the radiographers at the QA Hospital were wonderful. I can reassure you that I found them extremely friendly, helpful and compassionate. We addressed each other on first name terms and this created a very relaxed atmosphere.
To be honest, now that my treatment has finished I’ve missed the Daisy Bus! I met a lot of good guys and girls on my journeys and it was so much more to me than a bus ride – it was my support bubble.