1st November 2023

Dave’s lung cancer story

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We often talk about how days can matter when it comes to a lung cancer diagnosis and Dave’s experience demonstrates why. Had his partner, Emelie, not pushed him to get a second opinion for his persistent cough when she did, things could have worked out very differently…

“I used to see the advert on TV about a persistent cough and thought that didn’t apply to me. I had never heard of non-smokers getting lung cancer.

“I think that’s why I wasn’t too concerned when I started with a severe cough. It was diagnosed as a chest infection, which felt logical, and treated with antibiotics.

“The antibiotics didn’t clear it. I was then treated for pneumonia and a chest infection with more antibiotics. But the cough persisted and was so severe it caused a hernia, and I had surgery to repair that in April 2021.

Fast forward to August and I still had a mild but persistent cough. I was told that it was a severe illness (at that point it was still believed that I had a chest infection complicated by pneumonia) and I should just be patient.

“I was ok with that, especially because at the time, I had much bigger things to focus on. My partner, Emelie, was having chemotherapy for colon cancer, so naturally any concern I had was about her and her wellbeing, rather than my own.

“Despite everything however, it was Emelie who insisted I take further action and get a second opinion just to check there was nothing to be concerned about. I used one of the doctors from my company who took it much more seriously and immediately insisted I see a respiratory consultant to rule anything more severe out.

Days matter

“I was diagnosed with lung cancer on 11 November 2021. I had a 7.8cm tumour in my left lung and was told if it had reached 8cm, it could not be operated on.

It’s a sobering thought to realise how close things got. I am so grateful to Emelie for pushing me to get a second opinion. If she hadn’t, things could have been very different.

“Instead, I was scheduled for surgery on the 4th December, which would be followed up with chemotherapy. Emelie had had a 9-hour surgery in January and 12 rounds of chemo, so I took strength from her positivity and outcome.

“I showed the surgeon a picture of Emelie and my dog Loki and said, ‘This is who I am fighting for’ and told him that is who he is fighting for too. He smiled and agreed. 

“Surgery went well. ICU was tough and the pain intense for a few days, but I joked throughout and pushed my physio from day 3. The chemo started well but got tricky at times and very serious on one occasion, but all the doctors and nurses were great, and I got through it.

Life after lung cancer

“It’s now almost two years since my diagnosis and life is good. Emelie and I have both recovered and are enjoying our new life in the country.

“In that time, I’ve been able to reflect on what was real whirlwind in our lives and now I’m ready to share my experience.

“Lung cancer is a terrifying disease to be faced with and the statistics do not make for positive reading. But I wanted to prove to people that with the right care, fight, attitude and a bit of fortune you can get through this.

I also want to raise awareness so that people like me, who think they are not at risk of lung cancer, will realise it is possible.

“It’s a really dangerous misconception which may cause people to ignore the signs like I did. Never did lung cancer ever cross my mind and yet, that’s what was causing my persistent cough.

“So please, to everyone reading this, watch out for the signs and take action as soon as you can. It’s always better to rule it out than wait and deny yourself the chance of survival.”