1st November 2020

I am Still Here: Gill Webb

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Being a nurse, Gill has treated people with lung cancer. Sadly, back then, the prognosis for lung cancer was awful so, when Gill was diagnosed herself, she didn’t think she’d see her 70th birthday. Fortunately, new treatments have meant the birthdays keep coming.

“I think lung cancer had really moved on. I had nursed people back in the 70s and they’d been dead within two weeks.

When I was first diagnosed with my cancer in 2017, I was coming up to being 70 in the following year. At the time, I never thought I would get to 70. I’ve now passed that and got to 71. My next milestone I’m heading for is next year, 2021, which will be our golden wedding anniversary.

I think what hurt me more than anything about my diagnosis was being a nurse and treating people with cancer over the years, I was disappointed that I hadn’t picked up on any symptoms.

My initial thought was that I had a bit of a cold or a cough and got a bit breathless when we were walking.

I suppose looking at it in depth I had a very heavy cold and had a tickle that was keeping me awake for three or four weeks but I put it down to this cold and was a bit chesty.

Then, one day we were walking and I got a bit breathless going uphill. I toddled down to the doctor and he said ‘I think it’s okay Gill but we’ll just check on an x-ray’.

By the time I got home, I had a phone call from the GP. I knew him pretty well and the first thing he said was ‘Gill, you haven’t got any lumps in your breasts have you?’ I told him I hadn’t and he sent me for an urgent referral. It was no surprise with that, my brain was going into overdrive.

Putting the bad memories aside

When I found out it was lung cancer, I was very frightened. When I was nursing, back in the 70s, we were doing horrendous things to patients I hate to say it. The chemotherapy was very raw and the side effects were horrendous. We used to burn people with the radiotherapy because the dosages were wrong. This wasn’t done intentionally, we were just doing what we could.

Fortunately, that has now helped us get to the stage where we are now where the outlook is much more positive.

Initially, the consultant told me I had six to nine months. Then, when we got to the year, I asked her where we go now and she said ‘Well, we’re hoping to get this more under control so this becomes a chronic disease more than an acute disease’.

To be honest, I don’t feel any different now. I have some side effects from the drugs, but I don’t feel any differently physically than I did three years ago.

Me and my husband have been retired for 14 years. We’ve done lots of travelling. We have a caravan which, up to when I was diagnosed, we would go off to Europe for three months in. We used to go to Portugal, Croatia, Slovenia, Hungary, Austria and just spend our time toddling around Europe. We’ve done that ever since we retired.

Since my diagnosis, it is a bit restricted due to insurance but I’ve found a very good insurance company and this year they had insured me for up to 45 days in Europe. Seven weeks isn’t a bad trip! Most people would be very grateful to have seven weeks away.

So yeah we travel, we do a lot of walking locally, we walk in all weathers with walking groups, the local pub has a walking group, we have a walking for health group and the WI so our live is quite full.

I definitely don’t wake up every morning thinking I’ve got lung cancer. To be honest, I hardly think about it.

I’ve got lung cancer and I’ll do my best to keep on living with lung cancer.”