ANDREW'S WORDS OF WISDOM
My name is Andrew Paget and I would like to say something to promote the need for everyone who notices any changes to their normal bodily functions or who experiences other unusual feelings to report them to their doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis of cancer can result in completely successful treatment and many more years of life!
My story starts back in 1997 when I was 55 years old. I had been playing in a very vigorous game of doubles tennis and later that evening I noticed blood in my urine. The following morning I passed some more and made an appointment to see my doctor. As you may have read recently doctors are being asked to get blood tests straight away for people who present with potential cancer symptoms (particularly for bowel cancer I believe) but in 1997 I had to go through a number of lesser tests for things like gall stones before finally being tested for bladder cancer by a surgeon from my local hospital. The cancer was confirmed and I had the tumour removed fairly rapidly after the diagnosis and this was followed by chemotherapy. Alas, after about three follow up checks over nine months the cancer was back and I had the bladder removed in 1998. At my tenth and final annual clinic with the urology team I was given the results of blood tests that I had provided earlier and they noticed an unusual reading for bilirubin. I had already noticed some changes to my bodily functions but had not been to my doctor as I knew I was about to attend the clinic. My concerns were regarding the dark colour of my urine and the urology team asked me about my stools which I had also noticed had changed. I was sent for a scan and they suspected a gall stone had lodged in part of my bile duct but when they carried out a keyhole operation they discovered a Stage 0 (dysplasia) tumour and not a stone.
Luckily for me our hospital is part of a group of south-coast hospitals and they held meetings from time to time. At one of these meetings a picture of my tumour was produced and Mr Abu Hilal said that it looked like a case for him and I am so glad he was there that day!
By the time I had my first appointment with Mr Hilal I believe my tumour was a T1 and when I had the surgery it was a T2 so these things can develop pretty rapidly and this shows the importance of early diagnosis!
I think most of us who have had the Whipples Procedure will have had some problems and complications afterwards such as the adhesions that Dom had (and I do agree that the pain was about the worst I have ever experienced) but it is not really surprising after this sort of major surgery. Yes it takes a while to get into a routine that works for you and to find food that has the right sort of balance but I am sure we are all pleased when we succeed.
I have now passed my eighth anniversary of the surgery and am certain that I was lucky to have had early diagnosis and speedy action. I am aware of new medical science and advanced techniques in detection but I still say “if you have any concerns or if you spot any changes in yourself then do get them checked out!”
My cancer was not pancreatic (it was duodenal) but I still required the full Whipples Procedure and I am so grateful to Mr Hilal and his team. I hope I can continue to be a living example of the success of his work for many years to come. I also hope he continues with his Liver and Pancreatic Cancer Research and Development Charity and that there will continue to be improvements to the early detection of these cancers. The mini-invasive treatments and stem cell research will, I am sure, greatly help improve the survival rates.