At the beginning of April 2016 I found swallowing my evening primrose and cod liver oil capsules a problem. I had taken them for a while with no problem and so was rather concerned that they started to get stuck in my throat; I also noticed that meat had a similar effect.
I made an appointment at the medical centre and was seen the same day by a medical practitioner, after explaining my concern to a very helpful receptionist. When I was examined, the Nurse Practitioner noticed that my glands were swollen; she then spoke to my doctor, and later that day she rang me to say that, if it was OK with me, they were referring me to Dorchester Hospital for tests, as they had concerns.
It wasn’t long before the appointments started coming in and within 3 weeks I had a gastroscopy, CT scan, blood tests and an ECG.
After the CT scan on 5th May 2016 I felt certain that it was cancer of the oesophagus, (although I don’t smoke or drink). On a visit to the cancer research shop I had picked up a leaflet about it.
On 11th May I had an appointment at DCH to confirm my thoughts and what was to happen next. Behind the scenes plans had been discussed by the medical team, which was fine by me. I was also found to have a sliding hiatus hernia.
My husband and I believe in a positive mental attitude as he also had cancer, in his case of the prostate, but the hardest part of all was telling our two sons the news, although I had pre-warned them.
On 16th May I had a feeding tube put in place before treatment began.
I met my specialist at Poole on the 23rd of May, 2016 and started treatment on the 25th of May for twelve weeks, which consisted of four lots of intravenous chemotherapy, as well as chemotherapy tablets and five weeks of radiotherapy at Poole.
When I first met my specialist I was amazed about what had already been arranged, including an appointment to have a “mask” made. That was the first time I had ever heard of such a thing and I must admit, until I met Chris and the team who make them, who explained the process, I was scared, but there was no need to be. (The mask was needed to keep my head still in exactly the same position for each session of radiotherapy.)
I was very fortunate that the treatment worked, and most of all that the problem was picked up early.
I am so grateful to all concerned, the Nurse Practitioner, my GP, Dorchester and Poole Hospitals, the medical centre, district nurses, family, friends and my manager and colleagues at work for all their support.
Looking back at my entries in my diary and the fact that we are now at the end of 2019 it does not seem possible. (PS I still have my mask!)
At the end of my treatment I met a friend, who had gone through cancer treatment herself, who introduced me to the Living Tree cancer support group and then, when I felt ready, “Stepping Out”. We are all very fortunate to have such a fantastic group in Bridport where we meet for coffee, tea and talks by various people on interesting subjects and also the “Stepping Out” exercise group, where, under the watchful eyes of Jo and Richard, we have fun whilst exercising.