TODAY we ask the whole of Huntingdonshire to dig deep and “Buy a Brick” to help the Woodlands Cancer Centre expand its life-saving work.

An extension of the Hinchingbrooke Hospital unit will mean more patients can receive treatment and help to rebuild their lives.

But staff and their supporters must raise £800,000 to pay for it and they need your help. People are being challenged to "be a brick" - a generous and loyal person-- and "Buy a Brick".

For a minimum donation of £5, individuals can purchase one of the building blocks, perhaps in memory of a loved one.

Meanwhile, companies have been challenged to raise enough to buy a cornerstone for a minimum of £100.

The names of all those who donate will be used to create a picture of the centre, designed by The Hunts Post, to go on display when the extension is finished.

Carol Croft, who received treatment at Woodlands after being diagnosed with breast cancer in March 2011, came up with the fundraising idea. "If everyone in Huntingdonshire bought a brick we would hit our target," she said. "This donation of buying a brick will make an enormous difference."

And the 52-year-old mum knows as well as anyone what a difference the Woodlands Centre and its team of staff makes to people's lives.

She was told her diagnosis at the unit the week before her 50th birthday. "Although I knew it wasn't going to be good news, it's still like being hit with a ton of bricks, being told you have cancer," she said.

"The worst thing was knowing I was going to lose my hair. It meant everyone would know. It's like a big banner saying 'Feel sorry for me'.

"I was not prepared to take it sitting down though. I wanted to completely face up to it and fight it."

Mrs Croft, who is married to Martyn and has a daughter, Hannah, 15, underwent six courses of chemotherapy at Woodlands.

"The first time I had it done I thought it would hurt, but it didn't hurt at all. The nurses were so lovely and took the scariness away from it.

"There are six chairs in the room and the people around you chat with you and it's nice to speak to others going through same thing."

In the September, Mrs Croft, who was working at Cambridge University Air Squadron at the time, had her operation, a mastectomy with immediate reconstruction at Hinchingbrooke.

She had 15 sessions of radiotherapy at Addenbrooke's in Cambridge and two six-monthly check ups later. She's all clear.

"I'm feeling absolutely fine and over it all," she said.

Mrs Croft, who now lives in Stamford, Lincolnshire, added: "I wanted to be on the fundraising committee to give back something to Woodlands because of the fantastic treatment I had.

"Everyone knows someone touched by cancer and people like to be able to feel they are helping in some small way.

"We want to say thank you to everyone who buys a brick."

INFORMATION: To Buy a Brick for a minimum donation of £5 simply send your donation together with your name to Buy a Brick, Karen Pryor, The Woodlands Centre, Hinchingbrooke Park, Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire PE29 6NT. Or visit www.justgiving.com/woodlandscentre

For more details, call 01480 363500 or 01480 416283 or look out for a Buy a Brick poster.