Taking a stand in the fight against cancer for World Cancer Day 2018

30 January 2018

Here at Spire Dunedin we are passionate about the fight against Cancer, and have a long history within the hospital, of treating and supporting those living with the disease in its many forms. The following is a testimonial to the work of our network of Consultants and our Oncology department, in particular Dr Chris Davies and Dr Paul Rogers.

"In the year 2000, following chest symptoms and a GP arranged chest X-ray, I was diagnosed with lung cancer. It consisted of a stage IIIa non-small cell tumour in the upper left lobe with some localised metastasis into the lymph nodes."

"The diagnosis was achieved after examination by Dr Chris Davies, Consultant Respiratory Physician, following bronchoscopy, CT Scan and ultimately a biopsy from which non-small cancer cells were discovered. Interestingly, the cells were not found in the biopsy extracted tissue but in the needle washings. Consequently, it took five weeks to confirm the disease.”

"On confirmation, an immediate referral was made to Consultant Oncologist Dr Paul Rogers, in just three working days. Dr Rogers reported that, at that point, my condition was inoperable, but that he was going to start with aggressive adjuvant chemotherapy to try and reduce the size of the tumour to an operable state. Two days later, in mid-July, at Dunedin Hospital I started the first of six infusions of Cysplatin and Vinoralbine chemotherapy treatments under excellent nursing care during overnight stays."

"In early September, the treatments caused difficulties with bowel function with severe constipation leading to 17 days In Dunedin Hospital to attempt improvement, which was achieved. On near completion of this phase, Paul Rogers reported, following an earlier fresh CT Scan, that the tumour had shrunk by 70 to 80% as a remarkable response from the chemotherapy. He consulted with Professor Tom Treasure, a leading thoracic surgeon who declared that the condition had become operable and then referred me to Mr Richard Sayer, cardiothoracic surgeon, for surgical intervention."

"In late October, Mr Sayer performed a 90 minute thoracotomy operation to remove the upper left lung lobe and dissect the mediastinum to remove accessible cancer-infected lymph nodes. The operation was successful, but in the course of the procedures, the cancer-affected left phrenic nerve had to be sacrificed. This left me with a paralysed left hemi-diaphragm, but almost certainly free of cancer. Following recovery from surgery, a PET Scan was conducted in London confirming no remaining active cancer cells as visible. A final chemotherapy infusion of Carboplatin, changed from Cysplatin to reduce constipation risk, was given."

"In March and April 2001, at The Royal Berkshire Hospital, I underwent 22 fractions of targeted radiotherapy treatments to the inaccessible lymph nodes to ensure that any remaining cancer cells were destroyed."

"It took about 12 months to recover fully from the treatments, after which there remained some breathing restrictions under exertion limiting the extent and duration of daily physical exercise and limitations walking up slopes and steps. In time, the paralysed hem-diaphragm and the void above it led to further persistent uncomfortable gut function limitations, which seem to be unresolvable, so it has to be lived with."

"I was told at the outset, on presentation, that survival expectations would be between 5 and 8%, improving to 20% after chemotherapy. 17 years on, I have been very fortunate to have survived. Oncological consultations ceased four years after completion of treatments."

"A consequence of the illness was that the substantial business of which I was CEO and part-owner had to be sold, as my condition precluded resuming normal work. In these years, I have led a quieter life, based at home. I have subsequently enjoyed doing various voluntary works that can be done from home, which give me an ongoing sense of achievement and usefulness to society and have resumed a normal family life. I have been lucky enough to see seven grandsons born in recent years and enjoy life with my wonderful wife, whose support during the difficult times was truly exceptional and devoted to my recovery."

Spire Dunedin Hospital fully supports the World Cancer Day campaign “We can. I can” and are grateful to this patient for his testimonial to the care he received and the determination of our Consultants to take action and make a difference.

Dr Paul Rogers no longer treats lung cancer but our other oncologists, Joss Adams, Richard Brown and James Gildersleve would be happy to discuss your concerns and possible treatment. If you would like to find out more about the treatments available at Spire Dunedin visit www.spiredunedin.com or telephone or our appointment team on 0118 955 3563.

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