I first went to my doctors’ in October 2018. I was told that my breathlessness on walking uphill was normal for my age. But in February 2019 an x-ray revealed fluid on my left lung. Three months later I had the fluid removed in the Royal Stoke Hospital. A biopsy confirmed my diagnosis of mesothelioma.
My decision to have surgery
My consultant, Dr Gosh, suggested I go to see Mr Nakas in Leicester. He told me that, if he operated to remove as much of the cancer as he could from the lining of my lung, my life expectancy could be anything from a few days to more than three years. I have a wonderfully supportive family, but I had to make the decision myself. No one else can make this kind of decision for you! I had the operation at the beginning of September 2019. I spent eight hours in surgery, three days in intensive care and 13 days in hospital.
Back at home my recovery began
At home I worked hard at recovery. I took over home chores as soon as I was able. Eventually I was walking up to 1½ miles most days and managing to do my own gardening, which I love. In August 2020 the cancer started to grow again, so Mr Nakas referred me back to the oncology department at Shrewsbury.
Because I was doing so well, my oncologist deferred chemo until the end of December 2020. This really knocked me about. I hated it and refused the final round of treatment. But I am still here!
Don’t take too much notice of predictions
When I was first diagnosed I was given less than eight months to live. But I was lucky. I was strong and I did not have any other underlying health problems.
I was not able to claim compensation from an employer because we are farmers. But I have used some of the government compensation, which Asbestos Support Central England helped me to get, to pay for visits to a local osteopath. Her pain control for my symptoms has been fantastic.
Looking to the future
My energy levels are not as good as they were. I still go for walks three or four times each week, but I now have to decide whether to walk or garden. I am also still cooking and doing most household chores. I can feel in my body that things are starting to alter. I am getting more uncomfortable. However, there is the possible hope of immunotherapy. I am just very thankful for every day I get now!
Picture, an English Farm © Neil Bishop