29th April 2024

Colin’s lung cancer story

View all Early detection

As a frontline HM Coastguard Search and Rescue Officer in Lymington, Colin Tabor, has been in some frightening situations but none more so than when he was told he had lung cancer…

“I wasn’t particularly concerned about my symptoms,” Colin explains. “I was suffering from a pain in my right shoulder which I believed was a trapped nerve. I’d had them in the past so that made perfect sense. I certainly didn’t think this could be a sign of lung cancer – even though, with hindsight, I was also getting slightly out of breath after exercising.

“I was seeing a physio for my shoulder, but it wasn’t getting any better, so they referred me to my GP who arranged for an x-ray of my shoulder and chest. Following these results, I was immediately referred to the thoracic department at Southampton General Hospital who called me in for a consultation on the same day. By then, the alarm bells were starting to ring.

Receiving a diagnosis

“I was diagnosed with lung cancer in the spring of 2021. This was just as the second Covid lockdown was coming to an end. Even though lung cancer was suspected, I was still in utter disbelief when I was told. I think initially I went into denial and then the fear hit.

My prior knowledge of lung cancer was scant, so I just thought the worst. I wasn’t aware of all the advances that have been made in treating lung cancer, especially if it’s caught early like mine was.

“I underwent VATS (Video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery) lobectomy / resection of my right lung in September 2021 and was discharged from hospital just two days later. I didn’t need any other follow up treatment, such as chemo. I just had to spend the following month in isolation at home as a Covid precaution.

“It was during this time that I first reached out to Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. The charity was a great source of information and provided me with some fantastic practical advice to help with my recovery.

Supporting the charity that supported me

“It’s for this reason that I decided to become one of the charity’s Dedication Ambassadors. I want to help raise awareness of not only lung cancer but also of the great work this charity does.  It’s so important that everyone who is diagnosed with lung cancer gets the support they need.

“I’m in the very fortunate position now where I can give back. Not long after my surgery, I experienced bouts of pneumonia and lung infections but recovered well and things are good. I’m able to live a near normal life – albeit just at a slightly slower pace!

“I’ve even been able to go back to work. Seven months after surgery, I passed the medical assessment that allowed me to return to the Lymington Coastguard. I passed on my second attempt, so it just goes to show that you must keep persevering. Everyone recovers differently. Just don’t give up.”