1st November 2023

Bill’s lung cancer story

View all Awareness

There are many people who think lung cancer can’t be cured, that a lung cancer diagnosis is an instant death sentence. It is easy to understand why; lung cancer is the UK’s biggest cancer killer but advances in treatment and the introduction of screening means more people are living well for far longer.

Still not convinced? Then meet Bill who’s 23 years lung cancer free (and he didn’t even have surgery!).

“I was very frightened when I was diagnosed with lung cancer. This was the disease that took my father, so I feared the worst, especially when I was told it was inoperable due to its size and location.

“I had chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat my lung cancer. I had six full sessions of chemotherapy. Each full session was then followed up with shorter session 10 days later.

“I tolerated the chemo a lot better than I thought I would. I was a little sick on occasions, but it wasn’t as bad as I imagined. You have a certain picture of the side effects of chemo but that wasn’t my experience.

“After I completed the course of chemotherapy, I started on radiotherapy. I had 20 sessions of radiotherapy and thankfully, again, I tolerated it quite well. I was a little sore at times and I also had difficulty swallowing but, in the grand scheme of things, it wasn’t too bad.

“Once I had finished all of my treatment, I was told by my consultant that the core of the tumour had practically disappeared. I returned to work and got back on with my life, having follow up scans for the next two years.

“My last visit with my oncologist was in 2002. They told me I no longer had cancer and they didn’t want to see me again! And I haven’t!

Sharing my lung cancer experience

“Over the past 23 years, I’ve supported Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation and been involved with many of the charity’s awareness campaigns. Whenever they ask for people to share their experience, I always volunteer but think they won’t want to share my story again!

“They always seem to which is why I’m here again as part of the Be Unforgettable campaign. I guess it’s about offering hope, showing that you can survive a lung cancer diagnosis. The key is catching it early and not letting fear stop you from getting symptoms checked.

I had a cough and a wheeze. My chest felt heavy and it was worse at night. I would lay in bed and I could feel this thing, like a moth, fluttering around and no matter how much I coughed, I couldn’t get rid of it.

“I was scared to go to the doctor because I knew lung cancer was a possibility. I had smoked so knew I was at a higher risk of getting lung cancer. I was scared if I went to the doctor, I was going to get bad news.

“At the same time, I knew I had to go and get help. I couldn’t delay it any longer. I had to find out – one way or another – and deal with it.

“I think it’s safe to say if I hadn’t then I would not be here today.”