My cancer started in 1994 after suffering a collapse at home. I went to the Horton Hospital in Banbury and then to the JR. I had a further cancer problem in 2011. Surgery for this took place on the Saturday of Prince William’s and Kate’s wedding in April. As I went to the theatre I could hear the singing in the background!
In our family, cancers started with my father and my grandfather (mother’s side). As a consequence, it seems clear that there is a genetic linkage, especially as now other members of my family have cancer. I have found it very stressful passing cancer onto my children. I have recently been contacted by the JR and have learnt that they are studying my cancer type, striated sessile polyposis, in great detail.
I am now 83. Cancer started when I was 56. Initially I was dealt with privately by Professor Mortensen (then Dr.) and subsequently, when my health insurers would not cover me anymore, I was able to be dealt with under the NHS with Professor Mortensen. Unfortunately, I have had a number of cancers to date : colon cancer, the removal of the right hemilectomy, lymphoma and lastly prostate cancer. I was finally released from hospital visits in late 2017 after the five year follow-through on prostate cancer. Until now, so far, so good.
I was exceptionally fortunate to have really excellent treatment, surgery and after-care. First with Professor Mortensen, then Dr. Cunningham and lastly I was under Professor East, all at the JR. I had chemotherapy for the colon cancer, etc. and radiotherapy for the prostate cancer, both at the Churchill Hospital. They were all very testing times but with a very helpful wife, they were managed.
I do think, however, that my general fitness has been contributed much to my life. I have always tried to be fairly fit – essential to my outdoor life and outdoor career. I have never been sedentary. When young, I was active throughout the year, especially when young. My career needed me to be active, and my life gave me the opportunity for a lot of travelling, both within the UK and overseas. Although travel to work abroad can be stressful, I found that being fit and able to focus on the other parts of life and the people I met, stopped me worrying too much about future health problems. While my work intensity probably contributed to my susceptibility, keeping fit was a good counter-balance, and the fitness helped when I was weak after the operations, and the chemotherapy and the radiotherapy.
When I got home, I started walking immediately. Although I didn’t walk far to begin with, I would walk 10 further paces every day. Walking three times a day, I picked up strength quickly. Within six weeks I could go for good long walks. I then started playing tennis again and I am now, subject to Covid-19 of course, reasonably fit. This was possible because I was looked after so well and was careful to do what the surgeons and physiotherapists said!
Also, I have found it very helpful not the think about what problems there might be in future. While I know what risks there are, I just got on with life. As a consequence, my life even with cancer, has been full. I continued to work until my late 70s. We have been able to travel to see family in the UK and abroad. We had to cancel one major trip because of cancer, but we have never let the fear of cancer stop us from doing what we want.
I don’t talk about cancer because there are difficult memories and they re-surface, but they are now in perspective; they are only part of my life. They do not dominate it. After all, I am still here! I am very fortunate to have a wonderfully encouraging wife, with whom I discuss everything, who provides essential and priceless care always. She came with me everywhere, seeing the surgeons and doctors and physiotherapists! How lucky I have been.