Susan*, from North Berwick, was a patient at Spire Murrayfield Hospital's Oncology Day Chemotherapy Centre in 2011. Here's her story:
After my 53rd birthday I went on a golf holiday to Kinross. I came back feeling unwell with a tummy bug, diarrhoea and very bloated. I visited my GP twice; he said it was a bug. Then I had three periods close together but I thought I was in the menopause. I visited another GP and she sent me for an ultrasound scan where they found fluid in my abdomen.
"Now I am back enjoying life with my family and I have a future"
Susan*, North Berwick
The GP said I needed to see my consultant gynaecologist Dr Milne at the Spire Murrayfield, Edinburgh. I nipped up to see Dr Milne and he took a blood test.
The next day he phoned me to tell me to go over my blood results and suggested I see his colleague, Dr Cameron Martin who would use the latest equipment - a camera which would go in through my tummy button to see what was wrong.
My new GP phoned me on the Friday evening to see if I understood what was happening and then gave me a shock by telling me there was a high chance I had cancer! This was to prepare me for Monday morning so I would not freak out when Dr Martin would tell me.
My husband took me to see Dr Martin and it was not long before he informed me I may have cancer of the peritoneum or ovaries. He said I would have a CT scan and MRI scan on Wednesday and depending on the results he might he operate on Friday and may have to remove a fallopian tube for further tests.
On Friday I had my operation. Dr Martin told me I would be fine and he would come and speak to me afterwards. He came in very calmly and told me I had cancer of the peritoneum, the lining of my lower abdomen. I asked him what cancer looked like; he said it was a changing of the surface of my lining. But it has been caught very early and he told me not to worry, I would have three chemotherapy sessions every three weeks up at the chemotherapy unit at Spire Murrayfield Hospital and that Dr Mark Zahra would be my Oncologist. Dr Martin explained that following chemotherapy he would operate and give me a total hysterectomy and remove my peritoneum before Christmas to let me recover.
My first chemo was scary as you are frightened of the unknown. My nurses, Deborah and Shona were lovely and always talked me through when was happening. They were also available on a 24 hour helpline when something was wrong. In the first few days I was very sick but thanks to the pharmacist and an extra anti-sickness pill I was never to feel sick again. I continued to go up to the unit for two more chemotherapy sessions. We would have coffee, lunch and chats about the nurse’s lives, and all my family would come and chat. We laughed a lot.
Two weeks before Christmas, I was admitted to the Spire Murrayfield Hospital for my operation to remove my cancer and have my hysterectomy. Mr Martin was very helpful and told me I would also have an epidural to help me after my operation so I would not be in so much pain. The operation went well and he removed all my cancer and told me it had not spread. But I would still have 3 more chemotherapy sessions to catch any missed cells.
Dr Martin would pop in to see me early in the morning, even on a Saturday. He was always so kind and honest with me. He discharged me and allowed me home for Christmas, although I could not do very much as I was clipped together and not able to lift anything. My wonderful husband, son and daughter gave me a fabulous Christmas and then it was back to chemo in February for my last three sessions.
I visited Dr Zahra after my treatment to discuss blood results and for an examination. I lost my hair after this round of chemo but I bought two wigs – a long and a short one. My friends all liked my new hair. I could even play golf and they didn’t blow off!
In April 2010 I visited Dr Zahra for the last results. He told me my bloods were normal and my cancer had gone. He said I would have to come and see him every three months for sometime. Thanks to all the nurses, pharmacists, Dr Martin and Dr Zahra and also Andrew the doorman. Now I am back enjoying life with my family and I have a future. I can enjoy my 32nd Wedding anniversary in June 2011.