A dream Derrick Evans often thought he would never see come true did so when his charity, Cancer Warriors opened a support and information centre on Melbourne Street, Stalybridge.
Back in 2012 Derrick, who was given only eight weeks to live, decided that if he beat cancer he would create something that was lacking in Tameside.
The 42-year-old former professional photographer wanted to create a centre that was staffed by volunteers who had beaten cancer so there was empathy.
And it was a special Good Friday morning when Jonathan Reynolds, MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, cut the ribbon to officially open the centre as he spoke about the inspirational Derrick.
Mr Reynolds said: “In the eight years since I was selected to represent this seat I have met thousands of people and Cancer Warriors has made a particularly strong impression on me.
“I have had many chats with Derrick and what he has done is fantastic. The support Cancer Warriors is offering cancer sufferers is brilliant and they are so optimistic and willing to make a difference. It is truly a special thing.”
Derrick, who is from Stalybridge, has been diagnosed with cancer three times, the first time in 2007 aged 32.
He formed Derk’s Army in 2010 to raise money for Macmillan Cancer and The Christie.
It was in 2012 when given only two months to live that Derrick made a vow to “create something that is lacking in Tameside”.
Cancer Warriors became a charity in 2016 and before the opening of the support and information centre has been running drop-in sessions at Stamford Park, Grafton Centre in Hyde and the Reclamations Rooms, Uppermill.
Derrick said: “It has been very emotional, especially the night before the opening when I was writing my speech and I realised I had finally achieved it.
“There were a number of people who said it would never happen without salaried staff. I was sick and tired of people making money out of illnesses and hard work and determination made this come true.
“I was determined it would be run by people who have had cancer, understand it and were willing to give their time. We have around 15 volunteers.”
Of the support Cancer Warriors provide, Derrick explained: “If you are diagnosed with cancer there are only certain places that offer support, and there is nothing like this in Tameside when you can drop in and have a chat.
“It was desperately needed and everyone says it is amazing. We work with Macmillan and The Christie and they can’t get over what we are doing and refer patients to us.”
Derrick added the centre had been created on a shoestring thanks to the support of many businesses that donated materials.
“You could say we begged, stole and borrowed, but it all came together,” he said.
The support and information centre will be open Monday to Friday between 10am and 2pm.