1st November 2022

June’s lung cancer story

View all Early detection

June was feeling utterly exhausted. So exhausted that when she’d get home, she could barely take her coat off before falling into bed. Knowing something was wrong, she took action and, with the help of her GP, was soon on the right path.

“I had been experiencing severe fatigue from about December 2021. I initially put it down to Covid and then long Covid as my job means I meet with the public on a regular basis. My son also had Covid so it made sense that this is what it was.

“The fatigue was terrible. I’d come home on Monday evening and literally not even take my coat off. I just had to go to bed.

“Getting up in the morning was the most awful thing. I have a very specific memory of one Monday morning. I woke up feeling dreadful but I am one of those people who think I’ll shake it off once I’m up and about.

“I drove to the train station where I met a lady that I regularly travel to work with. She looked at me and was quite concerned about how unwell I looked. She even offers to get the train back home with me to make sure I was ok. I persevered however and got on my final bus to work.

“As soon as I got to work, I knew I had to go back home. I went into the kitchen to hang up my coat and just sat there. I couldn’t eat anything. I’d actually also been losing weight and had little appetite too. I waited for a manager to come in and then I got an Uber home and went straight to bed. I didn’t go back to work until the new year.

It was a really distressing time. I was crying constantly because just going about my daily life was so hard. I knew something must be causing me to feel so bad. I still thought it could be long Covid so I went to the doctor for blood tests.

“Every single thing they measured was off the scale. I am a non-insulin diabetic and that was high. My cholesterol was high. My calcium was high. Even my vitamin D was high and, as a black person, that is unheard of. Black people do not have high vitamin D levels. In fact, it’s recommended we take vitamin D supplements, particularly in the winter because we don’t get enough from the sun.

“I was sent for more blood tests and they came back just as bad. I was then referred to the Rapid Assessment Diagnostic Clinic at Guy’s Hospital where I met a fantastic GP called Dr. Dorset. I won’t forget her. I sent her a thank you card, as well as the two GPs who’d sent me for the blood tests, because without them, who knows where I’d be now.

“She explained why I had been sent to the clinic, what would happen and why. I had a series of scans, blood tests and other things to try and establish what was causing me to feel so fatigued. That was when they saw a shadow on my lung.

“They original thought I had small cell lung cancer but it actually turned out to be an atypical carcinoid in my middle lobe. It’s a rare form of lung cancer. Fortunately, it was still early stage and I could have surgery to remove it.

“I was admitted to Guy’s Hospital on 12th June and had the operation the following day. They used robots to remove my cancer so far less invasive and helped me heal more quickly.

“Soon after the surgery, I had the drainage tubes removed and a physiotherapist came round to talk me through some exercises I need to do to start building my lungs back up. Two or three days later, I was discharged.

“My energy levels are now so much better and possibly back to how I was in my forties! I feel like the old me again and I’m so grateful.”