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Support workers make huge difference to leukaemia sufferer

Three Bedfordshire support workers have won an award celebrating their dedicated support to one young leukaemia sufferer.

Mel Hedges was diagnosed with leukaemia two years ago. Three support workers from the charity Hft, Louise Taylor-Burton, Julie Grinham and Shannon Jarrett have since worked tirelessly in unison to support Mel throughout her treatment journey, accompanying her to regular hospital visits, multiple bone marrow biopsies and countless journeys to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge.

Mel first started to feel ill in May 2021, and was diagnosed with leukaemia after a bone marrow biopsy.

Mel commented:

“After the news, I was moved to Addenbrookes Teenage Cancer Ward. After lots of blood tests, I found out I had AMPL leukaemia – acute promyelocytic leukaemia.

“I had lots of treatment and stayed in hospital until late June. After that, I had to keep going back for months for more treatment a few times a week.

“Eventually, the doctor told me I was getting better. I had my very last chemo treatment in March 2022 and in April, almost a year after the diagnosis, I got the all clear.

“My results showed I beat cancer! And I’m alright now!”

In recognition of their dedication to Mel, Louise, Julie and Shannon recently won the Best Life Possible award at Hft’s 60th anniversary celebrations. The award is dedicated to those who set the standard in supporting amazing outcomes for the people supported by the charity, going above and beyond their day job to make a real difference towards Hft’s ultimate goal for adults with learning disabilities – achieving the best life possible.

Their nomination reads:

“When Mel was diagnosed with leukaemia, it was a real shock. Louise, Shannon and Julie pulled together to ensure she had proper continuity of care, familiarising themselves with her treatment plan and communicating her needs to other professionals and staff.

“Their actions meant the treatment, care and support she received were excellent. They went above and beyond, driving many hours to and from appointments, in the ever-changing Covid-19 context, and managed the impact on their own emotions, always putting Mel first.

“They did this by working very closely together to make sure all Mel’s treatments were supported. By ensuring a continuity of care, they played a clear role in delivering the best possible outcome for her in that situation.”