22 February 2017
"Good health!" - popular Stratford landlord Chris Burton had the perfect toast when he pulled himself a pint in celebration at just receiving a ‘cancer all-clear’.
The 46 year old landlord of the famous Garrick Inn has spent the last nine months fighting Hodgkin Lymphoma, a relatively rare form of cancer that spreads through the body’s lymphatic system.
But, after an intense treatment regime involving 12 sessions of chemotherapy, Chris has just received the news that he is in the clear – and the keen motor-biker is already planning a road trip around Bosnia and Croatia to mark the occasion.
Chris, who runs Stratford’s oldest pub with wife Lynette, started to think ‘something wasn’t right’ when instead of being his busy and bouncy self he felt tired and lethargic on a regular basis.
It was when a lump ‘the size of a golf ball’ appeared in his neck that he decided he had to take action and visited Mr Huw Griffiths, an Ear, Nose and Throat Consultant Surgeon at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull.
“Mr Griffiths took a fluid sample and then did a biopsy. By now I had been a regular visitor to ‘Dr Google’ and, to be honest, I wasn’t too surprised when he told me I had Hodgkin Lymphoma,” said Chris, who had lost his brother Simon to cancer at just 27-years-old.
Chris was referred to Consultant Haematologist Dr Shankar Paneesha at Spire Parkway who took control of his treatment from that moment. He explained: “The lymphatic system is part of the body’s immune system carrying disease-fighting white blood cells through a network of vessels and glands.”
“Hodgkin lymphoma is indeed fairly rare, accounting for less than 1% of all new lymphoma cases in the UK each year.
“Once we had carried out sophisticated tests to establish the extent of lymphoma on Chris we then started a chemotherapy regime which he handled very well. We were all delighted when his scan showed he was ‘cancer clear’.”
As for Chris, he added: “I’m not going to say it has been easy because there have certainly been some low times but, with the support of my family and lots of my regulars, as well as my employers Greene King, I have managed to stay positive throughout it all.
“My daughter Georgie has kept me on my toes and the staff at the Spire Parkway Cancer Centre made sure I spent much more time laughing than feeling sorry for myself, but it is Dr Paneesha I really want to thank.
“He was always in control, always there with encouragement and advice and at no point did I ever doubt he would get me through it – he even encouraged me when I told him about my planned road trip.”
Chris has already taken a large family party for a holiday in Cape Verde to celebrate his sister-in-law’s 50th birthday but he is now turning his attention to his Bosnian adventure on his beloved Honda motorbike.
“A friend and I have done the trip in the past, so as soon as I began treatment he said that we were going to do it again as soon as I was better. Well I’m better now and raring to get back on the bike again but, for the moment, I’m just happy to be back behind the bar and pulling pints,” said Chris.