1st November 2022

Ian’s lung cancer story

View all Early detection

Ian shared his lung cancer story with us just a month after he had surgery, highlighting the importance and impact of early detection. His story is a positive one but there are still vital lesson to learn from.

“I started with a cough in January 2022 but at that particular time, we had all these horrible bugs going round as well as the Omicron variant of Covid, so I put it down to that and just got on with things.

“The cough wasn’t really that bad either and it only happened at night. I would fall asleep then, about an hour later, I would wake up coughing. It was quite a bad coughing fit but then it would stop and I’d go back to sleep.

“I was feeling fine but the cough persisted. My wife and daughters-in-law urged me to go to the doctor but I’m stubborn. In hindsight, it was such a silly response but typical men!

I don’t know why men have that reaction. Maybe we’re embarrassed, maybe we just want to stay strong. All I know is if I’m told to do something, I’ll usually do the opposite so I didn’t go to the doctor.

Ian put off seeing a doctor about his persistent cough

“However, after a few months, I realised my wife and daughters-in-law were right. The cough wasn’t getting any better so clearly something was wrong. I had a consultation with a clinical practitioner whose instant response was to put it down to Covid. I was sure it was not Covid; I had Covid in April and the cough started before then. Despite this, she kept insisting it was Covid-related.

“I was just as insistent however, and in the end she sent me for an urgent chest x-ray. Sooner after that, I received a phone call to say there was a mass in my lung. From then, it was a whirlwind of scans, blood tests and doctor’s appointments.

“I met with the thoracic consultant on the 8th June and he said he was 99% certain it was lung cancer. This was confirmed six days later and I was diagnosed with stage 2 non-small cell lung cancer. By that point, I was just revealed to have a diagnosis and a treatment plan.

On Wednesday 27th July, I was in hospital having the operation, just 13 days after the confirmed diagnosis on 14th July. The whole pathway – from that first chest x-ray to me actually having the procedure – was exactly 11 weeks.

Ian’s route to diagnosis and treatment was just 11 weeks

“The operation was a complete success. I had video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery (VATS). They put me under at 4pm on Wednesday and the next day, they took the drain away. On Friday afternoon, I was discharged and walked out of hospital.

“I feel so well. I’m out walking everyday. I am breathing a little bit more heavily but I think that’s to be expected. I am building my lungs back up and it’s not stopping me doing anything. I push my youngest grandson up a hill in his buggy. It was a bit of an effort but I was determined to get to the top because it’s helping me get back to normal. The other good thing is the doctors said that because my lungs are so big, taking that bottom lobe away has had no real effect on the capacity and the workings of my lungs.

“It all feels like a dream. In fact, I feel a bit like a fraud. I felt like a fraud before the operation because from the outside, no one could tell because I looked so well. Even the surgeon, couldn’t believe how well I looked 24 hours after the operation. I didn’t ask him what I looked like before!

“It is staggering how quickly everything happened. Some days I think to myself ‘Is this a dream? Am I going to wake up?‘ As I speak to you now, I was diagnosed with lung cancer about 15 weeks ago and look at me now! And I think it’s because I pushed at the very beginning for that chest X-ray.”