Bill knows the devastation lung cancer can cause; it took his father away. So when he was diagnosed himself, he understandably feared the worst. 19 years later and his is a very different story.
I was diagnosed with lung cancer in spring 2000.
I never learned the stage of my cancer, but I knew it was pretty serious. The tumour was inoperable due to its size and due to its location, so I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the Beatson in Glasgow.
I had six full sessions of chemotherapy. Each one was followed 10 days later by a shorter session of chemo. When the chemotherapy was finished, I had 20 sessions of radiotherapy.
The chemotherapy wasn’t as hard on me as I expected. Why? I don’t know but I was quite pleased about it. Sometimes I got sick, but nothing much and nothing like other people have had.
The radiotherapy was much of the same. I felt a little sore at times. I had difficulty swallowing but, again, nothing too bad.
The impact on life
I had to stop working for a few months but, apart from that, we were able to continue with life as normal – mostly. A bit slower perhaps, but otherwise ok.
Sometimes I had days when I preferred to say in bed but most of the time I tried to get out and about and just be as normal.
We went to a wedding one time against the doctors advice, but thoroughly enjoyed ourselves! I had one shuffle around the floor!
Once the treatment was finished, my health was pretty good. I had been told by the specialist that the core of the tumour had practically disappeared, which was excellent news. A month or so later, I was able to return to work.
I had follow ups for about two years. Then, after my last visit to a specialist in 2002, I was told I no longer had cancer.
I don’t think the fact that I’ve had lung cancer is ever out of my mind. You think about it all the time. It doesn’t worry me. It doesn’t concern me. There’s no reason why it should come back. I just get on with living.
We’ve been on holiday many times. We recently went to California for a wedding and visited LA, San Francisco and San Diego. It was good fun driving for the first time in America.
We love San Diego. We’ve been there four times. It’s just a lovely place and the people we know there. We stayed with good friend and they took us round and about. We went for meals. It was just enjoyable.
I also continued working at Stirling University until I retired. A year after I retired, I was awarded an honorary MA for my work with the cancer care centre.
Blast from the past
A few weeks ago, when I was checking Facebook, I came across the name of my specialist who treated me when I had lung cancer.
I sent a message them a message and immediately responded ‘Yes, Bill. I’m the person you met at the Beatson in 2000, and I’m glad that you’re still alive!‘
I thought that was pretty good.”
Bill shared his story as part of our Follow my Lead campaign for Lung Cancer Awareness Month 2019. Follow my Lead aims to improve conversations around lung cancer and help those affected to address and deal with a diagnosis.