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City barber who was diagnosed with cancer gives back to charity which helped him

PUBLISHED: 23:29 13 September 2018 | UPDATED: 13:40 14 September 2018

Nick Bunn, who had cancer but is now a volunteer at the Big C Centre. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Nick Bunn, who had cancer but is now a volunteer at the Big C Centre. Photo: Geraldine Scott

Geraldine Scott

It is a place where no one wants to have to go.

Alison Aldrich, who had breast cancer but now has the all clear, and Julian Pollard, Big C support and information officer, at the Big C Centre. Photo: Geraldine ScottAlison Aldrich, who had breast cancer but now has the all clear, and Julian Pollard, Big C support and information officer, at the Big C Centre. Photo: Geraldine Scott

But for those with a heartbreaking reason to visit the Big C centre, just outside the Norfolk and Norwich Hospital, it is an oasis of calm amongst chaos.

Cancer patients and their families are welcomed to the centre every day whether to get information, or to receive relaxing treatments.

For Nick Bunn, 66, from Norwich he visited the centre when he was diagnosed with the disease in 2010, and now is a volunteer.

Mr Bunn first noticed blood in his urine in June 2009 and it first it was thought it was caused by kidney stones. But in January 2010 it was revealed he had kidney cancer.

Big C centre. Picture: James BassBig C centre. Picture: James Bass

Mr Bunn had his right kidney removed, only for a later scan to reveal the cancer had spread to his bladder.

He said: “They said I had considerable growths, 50 or 60 growths, I was told it was very invasive.”

Mr Bunn went under the knife again and had his bladder removed.

“I saved my best kidney for retirement and bladders are overrated,” he joked.

Nikki Morris, deputy chief executive of the Big C. Credit: Big CNikki Morris, deputy chief executive of the Big C. Credit: Big C

But despite his jovial nature, the months of treatment were tough for Mr Bunn, who is well-known in Norwich for setting up city barbers, Croppers, in 1976.

He said: “For me, things did not look good at all for a while and you make this pledge that when I’m well enough I want to give something back.

“For me getting over the kidney cancer I thought things were looking good but it had actually spread. In some ways you feel responsible.

“My role is dad, to make things right for everyone else, and I did not want to be responsible for their upset. It reenforced what really matters.”

Chris Bushby, chief executive of the Big C. Photo : Steve AdamsChris Bushby, chief executive of the Big C. Photo : Steve Adams

Mr Bunn has since become a volunteer for the Big C centre, which he said helped him when going through treatment.

And he said he was particularly keen to provide support for carers who he said were sometimes forgotten.

He said: “My wife Joan had some counselling and had the massage, I chose not to. But you could go somewhere and get some positive support.

“I was so impressed with this place from day one the atmosphere, the building itself. I’ve had people say I want to live here.”

Deputy chief executive of the Big C Nikki Morris was one of those involved in setting up the charities support centres.

As well as the NNUH centre there are also bases in Great Yarmouth, King’s Lynn, and soon Norwich city centre.

And as Mrs Morgan prepares to leave the charity next week, she said she was proud of what she was leaving behind.

“We wanted to have a building which was accessible to people at the hospital but separate from the hospital, for a social support which we all know is huge for people,” she said.

“We wanted it to feel very different to the hospital.”

She said a lot of time had been taken in designing the centre to make sure it was suited not only for patients, but carers too.

“Sometimes we’re supporting the supporters,” she said.

But also making sure it was right for people from different walks of life and at different stages of their treatment.

“One thing which was really important is there’s no reception desk,” she said.

“People need to feel like they’re in a place which is more like home.”

Mrs Morris said she was proud of what the Big C had created in Norfolk, and said there was not anything close the the coverage of the charity elsewhere.

She said “There are pressures on the NHS and social services. We need to be mindful of that, we are very patient centred, we want to feel like we’re here for Norfolk. It’s great here [at the centre] but some people still need us. “

Mrs Morris leaves the charity after seven years to become chief executive at a national charity in London.

Dr Chris Bushby, chief executive at the Big C, says: “Nikki’s passion has been 110pc in support of providing the best outcomes for those individuals, families and communities affected by cancer and we know that she will take this passion to her new chief executive role.

“I and the trustees are delighted for Nikki and we are not surprised at this achievement.”

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