Cancer Patient Advocate
It was 16th December 2003 when after a series of tests I was diagnosed with lung cancer. I felt I led a good healthy life, in fact the morning of my diagnosis I had been for a nice swim at a local outdoor pool!
I was never one to get ill, always very active however when I coughed up a spot of blood after cleaning my teeth I thought I should go along to see my GP.
I had lost my husband to lung cancer in 1976 but I knew that treatment had come a long way since then and tried to be philosophical about it. Frankly, I was more distressed about telling my children and it was so hard to break the news to them, especially over the festive period.
The morning after my diagnosis I was seeing the surgeon and in a matter of weeks I was operated on at the Cardiothoracic Centre Liverpool NHS Trust, Broadgreen where half my left lung was removed. I think myself very fortunate that I did not need any further treatment of any kind.
Having retired as a Social Worker at Ormskirk Hospital 4 years before my diagnosis, I joined a Health Centre and swam outdoors at least 3 mornings a week – I still swim outdoors and go the gym 3 times a week. I led, and still do lead, an active, happy social life. I belong to a walking group, we do 5-6 miles a couple of times a month, a great way to keep healthy and to chat to friends.
My many friends, family and I have been using complimentary therapies for many years. At one time I was training as a Homeopath. I have used Homeopathy for the past 21 years and I have monthly Reflexology sessions, along with regular massage treatment. I was having these before the cancer was diagnosed and continue to receive them now.
I am a regular church go-er and have always been involved in the life of my community. At present I hold the role of Chairman of our Parish Council. As a mother of 6 and a grandmother of 9, I have a large family who all live at a distance from me. I visit them often, and very often baby-sit for them. Yes, I like to keep busy!
Last year around the time of the 5 year anniversary of my diagnosis with lung cancer, I visited Ness Botanical Gardens at the University of Liverpool and realised how fortunate I have been. I was diagnosed early after visiting my GP with a symptom that was unusual for me. And I feel there is no way the care and treatment I received could be improved.
Since getting in touch last year with Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to see how sharing my experience could help others, I have been involved in helping to spread the word on various projects including Lung Cancer Awareness Month and the Look After Your Lungs Pilot Study Report.
I have given interviews with local newspapers and have taken part in a short film about the importance of knowing the signs and symptoms of lung cancer to encourage people to seek help at an early stage. My latest endeavour involved being interviewed for a Living with Lung Cancer information DVD for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. My grandchildren think it is very funny that their 74 year old Gran has become so in demand!
I am delighted that simply by talking about my experience other people may realise that there is life after a lung cancer diagnosis.