Barnabas ('Barny') Baricz Hughes was in his early 20s when he found out he had cancer. He was cared for in the specialist Teenage Cancer Trust ward at Addenbrooke's, designed for 14-24 year olds.
Barny was just 20 years-old when he first started to feel signs of fatigue and dizziness whilst out working for the local census in Bourne, Lincolnshire, in late 2020 during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He went for a blood test at his local centre, had a biopsy taken in Peterborough and in April 2021 was diagnosed with Acute-Myeloid Leukaemia, a type of blood cancer that progresses very quickly and affects the white blood cells, responsible for protecting the body against infections.
“It was very traumatic and a lot of information to process” said Barny.
He chose to travel and be treated in Cambridge because of the specialist care the ward could provide, where he could stay comfortably and recover with staff at-hand after chemotherapy.
"I saw the environment, met the staff and thought yeah I want to be here even though it's an hour-and-a-half away from home."Barny
The Teenage Cancer Trust (opens in a new tab) unit has eight in-patient beds and dedicated day care facilities.
Barny said: “The environment on the ward was very friendly and very caring, there's a greater likelihood of you getting your own room which means that you don't have to stress about having your own space and a bit of privacy."
After months of chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant in August 2021, Barny was cancer free in less than a year.
"I was very interested in how the different types of medicines and chemotherapy worked as it made me feel I had certain degree of control over it," said Barny.
"Knowing what the stem-cell transplant did and how it affected my body allowed me to prepare for the after-effects and better communicate any issues that arose from it to the team of nurses and doctors that looked after me."
Although he still has regular check-ups, Barny said he is looking forward to doing more physical activity, like rock climbing and hiking and has hopes to join the Royal Air Force.
“Being able to tell the patient that you are in the best hands possible, that you’re getting the best care and it is a state of the art facility that makes such a difference."Barny
The current Teenage Cancer Trust ward in Addenbrooke’s will move into the new Cambridge Cancer Research Hospital, and continue to treat young adults with cancer.
The new hospital will have 77 single inpatient rooms, spread across wards for oncology, haematology and bone marrow transplant as well as the young adult cancer ward.
When asked about our future cancer hospital, which will provide specialist cancer care for patients across the East of England, Barny said:
“Being able to tell the patient that you are in the best hands possible, that you’re getting the best care and it is a state of the art facility that makes such a difference.
“It reduces the doubts we have, the ‘am I going to be here tomorrow?’ and ‘is this going to work?’ thoughts.
“Seeing the patient’s perspective and understanding why the cancer happened, how to cure it and possibly even how to prevent it, that’s really important.”