Kathy Ball

My Experience

I had been suffering with lots of coughs and colds for several months and was diagnosed as an asthmatic. A diagnosis which I readily accepted. A couple of years after being diagnosed with Asthma and using inhalers which didn’t seem to give any relief from wheezing I started with a terrible pain in my side which radiated up to my shoulder blade making it difficult to breath due to excruciating pain.

I went to my doctor who said I had pleurisy and gave anti-biotics. I took the anti-biotics as required but carried on working as my job was quite sedentary as a New homes Sales Advisor I thought I would be ok whilst just sitting.

After about a week I began to feel worse I could hardly take a breath due to the pain in my side. I called the GP who told me to take myself to A & E, I called my friend who came to take me the 16 mile journey by car, it was the most painful journey I had ever experienced every bump was agony. When I arrived at A & E I was very quickly taken to a side room I was connected to a monitor to check my heart as they thought I was having a heart attack. My temperature was 104 so off came my clothes and I was put in front of two fans to cool me down quickly. It was found after several hours and a chest x ray that I had pneumonia.

Following my discharge from hospital I attended an appointment with a consultant who told me that he wanted to take another x ray to see if everything was ok, he assured me that I would be fine and that he would call me with the result.

I remember so clearly I was out having a nice girly lunch with friends at a local hotel when I got a phone call from the consultant and the words “its not good news” was all that I heard. I told my friends I had to leave and I left the hotel and walked in the rain feeling really worried and getting very wet.

The following week I went to see the Consultant who told me that there was something on the x ray but he didn’t know what it was and that he would certain there was nothing wrong with me but that it was just scar tissue from the pneumonia but I needed to have a scan.

The scan followed quite quickly, then a bronchoscopy and a biopsy then the news came that I had an adenoid cystic carcinoma, a rare form of lung cancer, that I had probably had for about 4 years, thankfully it was a slow growing tumor!

I remember sitting in the room with the consultant as he gave me the news, all I could think of was ‘I am going to die and my girls will be alone’, I was completely devastated, after never smoking in my life and having what I thought was a healthy lifestyle how on earth could I have lung cancer. The rest of the day is a blur of emotion, telling my two daughters was awful.

Two weeks later I found myself in hospital I was very lucky as the company I worked for gave BUPA to their employees so I was in a lovely hospital in the middle of a country park and the care was wonderful. It was August Bank Holiday Monday 2007 at 08.00 the date of my surgery with my two daughters sat by my side I was petrified that I wouldn’t survive the surgery. But 5 hours later I was in intensive care wired up to all sorts of machines and still very much alive.

I returned home after 6 days in hospital unable to do anything for myself every movement was agony, simple tasks like going to the bathroom, showering, and dressing were almost impossible My eldest daughter gave up her job in London to take care of me full time my youngest daughter was at University and although she wanted to stay home with me too I encouraged her not to stop her degree and to carry on once the term started in September.

During a follow up visit to the surgeon he told me that he hadn’t removed all of the cells and I had to undergo 5 weeks on intensive radiotherapy - 25 treatments. At the time the treatment side effects were debilitating and I found it difficult to eat or drink. I felt pretty awful. But on 9th December I finished my radiotherapy and I returned to my home. It was lovely to be back home and I began to recover quickly with the help of my wonderful daughters my family and friends.

It is now three years since my surgery and radiotherapy and I feel really good. I love to walk and did a 12 mile walk recently. I love to dance and am trying to find a salsa dance class for the winter months.

I survived this condition I am so happy to be alive - it isn’t the end of the world having one lung although at times, it is a challenge. As the saying goes “That which does not kill you, only makes you stronger”.

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