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Debbie's Story

 

Debbie Says: In October 1998 I saw Lynn talking on GMTV about Bowel Cancer. Lynn was talking about her own personal experience with Bowel Cancer and also promoting her leaflet which was available free telling people like me about symptoms.

Just listening to Lynn talking made me feel uncomfortable as I realised that the symptoms she was describing were familiar to how my bowel habits had been over the previous 18 months or so. So a couple of days after seeing Lynn on the television I went out and picked up the leaflet she had been talking about and read it over and over again for a couple of weeks. I began to think more carefully about my symptoms. Then at the beginning on November 1998 I had another spate of very loose bowel movements along with a lot of blood loss. I made a doctor's appointment. My doctor examined me and said that he could not find any abnormality but referred me to a colorectal surgeon called Mr Mike Thompson.

I saw Mr Thompson at the beginning of January 1999.  I had tests and a week later found out I had bowel cancer. It was difficult having to tell our children and friends and family especially as I looked so fit, well and healthy. Another week later and I had my operation. My operation was very successful and I had an anterior resection between the rectum and the colon.

During my operation it was discovered that I had masses on the right and left lobes of my liver. This was yet again another big blow to myself and my family, but one I was determined to fight. I then had to concentrate on getting fit and well not just to go home, but to face another challenge.

Bill and I saw the Oncologist first who painted a rather grim picture with regard to liver surgery but next we saw Mr Merv Rees who was excellent, and like Mr Thompson my bowel surgeon Mr Rees was patient, kind and understanding. When we mentioned our fears from talking to the oncologist he quickly put our minds at rest and it was decided that I would undergo a liver resection and have chemotherapy afterwards.

On March 15th 1999 after undergoing various tests I had my operation. I knew I would be lucky if Mr Rees could remove all the deposits on my liver because of the location of some of them. I am pleased to say that all the deposits were removed. Once I was able to go home I then worked on building up my strength for when I started my chemo in mid May. This was a hard time for all the family, as we had been through so much with operations and now faced the unknown with chemo, of which we'd heard lots of stories of how it affected people

My chemo consisted of 12 sessions of chemotherapy using Oxaliplatin, 5FU and Folinic Acid.

After my chemo was finished I was put on 6 monthly scans to keep a check on things. At the end of April 2000, I felt as though something was amiss and that the cancer had returned. I went and saw my GP who was very good. She said that it was natural for me to be concerned. I had a scan date booked for June anyway so we decided to wait until then to see if anything was wrong.

My scan showed that I had a nodule in the very tip of the lower left lobe of my lung. I was referred to Mr Peter Goldstraw and further scans and x-rays were taken. The new scans showed I had two lesions in the left lung and three in the right.

On September 5th 2000 I underwent surgery on my right lung and on September 26th the lessions on my left lung were removed under surgery.


As determined as ever, I went home to build myself up for another course of chemotherapy. The new course was started in January 2001 and consisted of a combination of Irinotecan and 5FU again through a picline.  After the chemo I was back on 6 monthly checks ups and had a colonoscopy that proved clear.

I was fit and well again after all my treatments and things looked good until I had a scan in July 2002. This time the scan saw a nodule in the lower left lobe of the lung. I had the nodule removed along with the left lobe which left me with 70% of my lung capacity. It was decided that further chemotherapy was not needed at this stage, just the 6 monthly scans and blood tests to continue along with MRI scans for a while.

Thankfully I have not had to undergo any further treatments since July 2002. I am fit and well now as you can see from my photo. I am cured of Bowel Cancer, cured of Liver cancer and am now 6 years clear of lung cancer. I'm so grateful to have seen Lynn on GMTV that morning in October 1999.

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