You are hereThree lung cancer sufferers on how they overcame killer disease

Three lung cancer sufferers on how they overcame killer disease


LUNG cancer is Scotland’s biggest killer but few people know the warning signs.
The disease affects 41,000 people in the UK every year – including 5000 in Scotland.
In 2010 there were 34,000 deaths from lung cancer in the UK – including 4050 Scots.
Scotland is the only country in the UK where lung cancer kills more people than any other form of the disease.
A persistent cough is the most common warning sign, but only 10 per cent of people know it’s a symptom of the deadly illness.
In comparison, 69 per cent know finding a lump could signal breast or testicular cancer.
The launch of the Be Clear on Cancer campaign – urging everyone who has had a cough for more than three weeks to see their doctor – could save 1300 lives a year.
When caught early, as many as 80 per cent of people are alive five years after diagnosis, compared with seven per cent diagnosed at a late stage.
Care Services Minister Paul Burstow said: “The message is simple. If you have a persistent cough for three weeks or more, visit your GP.”
More than 80 per cent of lung cancer cases are caused by smoking.
Cancer Research UK’s information director Sara Hiom said: “Lung cancer continues to claim far too many lives.
“More than four in five cases of the disease are caused directly by smoking.
“But this means nearly one in five cases are not. It’s really important that anyone with a cough that lasts for three weeks, or someone with a worsening or a change in a long-standing cough should get it checked.”
We spoke to three Scots who have beaten lung cancer to find out how they won their battle.
Diagnosis was bolt out of blue

Alison Walker, 40, was diagnosed with lung cancer last autumn. The research analyst, from Edinburgh, has never smoked.
Alison said: “I had a bad chest infection at Christmas 2010 and never really felt 100 per cent after it.
“Then, last summer, I developed a persistent cough. Last September, when I was hoarse from coughing, I went back to the GP who sent me to the hospital for a chest X-ray.”
Shocked Alison was told there was a shadow on her right lung.
“Initially they thought it was TB and I thought it would be nothing to worry about, they would treat it with antibiotics.
“I went private and asked my doctor if the cancer was back – I had breast cancer in 2007.
“After a couple of months of tests, they told me it was a tumour.
“The good news was that it was a primary cancer, they could tell by the shape of the tumour.
“It was a relief it wasn’t connected to the breast cancer, a secondary cancer would have been awful.”
Alison dealt with her diagnosis pragmatically.
“I knew they were going to remove it,” she said.
“They weren’t sure if I would get chemotherapy or radiotherapy, but my doctor hoped I wouldn’t need any more treatment – and he was right.
“The operation was a couple of weeks before Christmas and I was told in January that I was clear.”
Alison was impressed with the treatment she received, but has been left shaken by her diagnosis.
“It was a shock as I’ve never smoked and never lived in a smoky environment. “I’ve never worked with chemicals. It was a bolt out of the blue.”
Treatment for stroke revealed shadow
James Brady, 79, lives in Fort William with his wife Elizabeth, 76.
The granddad was diagnosed with lung cancer after suffering three mini-strokes back in 2006.
Ironically, the strokes saved his life.
James said: “I was working at the tourist steam train at the time when the guard asked me what was wrong. She said my speech was slurred and I didn’t look right.”
James was sent home to his worried wife and daughter Kathleen, aged 36.
“They thought if I had a fourth stroke it might be a major one.
“I was sent to hospital in Inverness to have my carotid artery cleared out. There they mentioned a shadow on my lung, found during tests, but the word cancer was never used.
“It wasn’t until after my surgery that the consultant told my wife he would keep me in.
“He told her that I had a cancerous tumour on my lung and would need surgery, or some chemotherapy.
“It was so out of the blue and I had no symptoms at all.” James was told surgery could be risky and he chose chemotherapy.
“They said that if I didn’t get treatment at all I would have a limited time left to live,” he said. “It was actually very lucky indeed that I had these three minor strokes.
“Lung cancer can affect absolutely anybody. I smoked many years ago but I hadn’t smoked for the past 30 years – and it still happened to me.”
I had 3 months to live...19 years ago
Dad-OF-TWO Tom Haswell, 67, lives in Bearsden, Glasgow, with his wife Helen.
He has been medically retired since 1993 when he was diagnosed with lung cancer.
Tom, then 48, was told his cancer was terminal and given just months to live.
He said: “I worked ¬overseas for many years as an engineer and in August 1993 I was on a job in Saudi Arabia.
“When I went for the works medical they showed me my X-ray and told me I had lung cancer.
“It was a total shock. I had no symptoms at all.
“They later confirmed the diagnosis after a scan and I had a tumour 7cm by 4cm in my left lung.”
Reeling with shock, Tom flew home to Scotland for tests.
He then discovered he also had infected nodes in his chest.
Tom said: “They said there was nothing they could do and I was given three to nine months to live.
“We were both absolutely devastated.
“I had been a smoker in the past but had given up almost 10 years before.”
Tom was offered ¬palliative radiotherapy to make him as comfortable as possible in the short time he had left.
But, when he went for the treatment, he met a new doctor who changed his life.
He said: “He asked if I wanted to take part in a clinical trial for a new chemotherapy drug called gemcitabine.
“Amazingly, it shrunk the tumour within six months. That enabled me to have radiotherapy to finish the thing off. I was left medically retired, ¬registered disabled, but alive.
“Nineteen years down the line, touch wood, I’m doing OK.
“For me the drugs were a miracle combination.
“That’s the benefit of research and clinical trials.
“The best thing we could have is a prevention and screening programme, which I would like to see.
“It’s the only way we are going to catch people early enough for treatment to be effective.”
By Karen Bale, Scottish Daily Record
 

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