It was after the 64-year-old’s son Mark was diagnosed with bowel cancer aged 31 that Sue decided to set up a pilot scheme with Macmillan Cancer Support at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre, to support cancer patients receiving Papillon treatment.
Mark had been told his only option was to have his colon removed, leaving him infertile and with a severely compromised quality of life.
However, a chance meeting with bowel oncologist Professor Myint at Clatterbridge, resulted in Mark becoming the youngest person ever in the UK to have Papillon treatment, a form of contact radiotherapy mainly used in palliative care.
Thankfully the treatment was successful and Mark now works for the company that makes Papillon machines, travelling to hospitals around the country and encouraging them to invest in Papillon so other cancer patients can access the same treatment he did.
Sue’s pilot scheme has expanded and she now manages a team of 10 ‘buddies’ who give one-on-one support to people all over the country having, or considering the treatment and their carers.
And thanks to Sue and Mark, Papillon is becoming more and more widely used.
She explained: “It’s all about giving the patient the choice.
“People weren’t being offered Papillon treatment, so they didn’t know it was an option.
“At the time Mark was diagnosed, Clatterbridge Cancer Centre was the only hospital offering Papillon treatment and it had never been used on a tumour like Mark’s before.
“But he was prepared to try anything rather than compromise his quality of life.
“Now, 10 years on Mark is cancer free and the treatment is being offered in Hull, Guildford and Nottingham.
“The team, working with Macmillan are now going to offer support to these other hospitals as well,” she added.
Sonia Holdsworth, Macmillan development manager, said: “Cancer is the toughest fight most of us will face, and it is so important that someone facing a cancer diagnosis understands all the options open to them and can access information.
“When Sue first approached us there was no doubt that we’d support her. She’s incredibly deserving of this award, showing creativity and tenacity in providing a much needed peer support service.
“The Papillon pilot not only promotes patient choice, but ensures no-one has to go through cancer alone.”
This month Sue is being awarded the Macmillan Richard Hambro Volunteer Award which recognises individuals who lead or manage a group to an exceptional standard, or inspire others to achieve outstanding success.