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4th February 2021

Lee’s lung cancer story

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When Lee’s dad, Laurie was diagnosed with lung cancer, the family were entering the unknown. Fortunately, Lee found a ‘diamond’ in this roughest of times to help them through.

“Dad was diagnosed at the beginning of November 2020. He’d been suffering with tiredness for some time, but sidelined his own health because my mum was undergoing hip surgery. That’s just the kind of man he is, always looking out for others and putting them first.

It was only when mum had recovered that he spoke up about how he wasn’t feeling right. By now, he’d also lost a lot of weight so phoned the GP. The doctor thought he was anaemic and prescribed iron tablets. This went on for about three months, but it became obvious that this wasn’t the problem and finally, many months later, the true extent was revealed – lung cancer.

All of a sudden, we’re cast into a situation we’ve never been in before and so I started looking for information. I contacted a couple of charities but didn’t really get the help I needed.

At 43, I remember Roy Castle and a bell was ringing that he died of cancer. When I googled him, I found out that he had had lung cancer and there was a charity named after him, so I reached out and I am so relieved I did.

I spoke to Nicky, one of the nurses on the charity’s helpline. I wasn’t entirely sure what to ask; I’m completely green to this but Nicky was fantastic. She told me the answers before I even knew the question! The level of detail was very reassuring, without being overwhelming.

We were on the phone for about an hour. I never felt rushed, or that she was trying to wrap up the call to speak to someone else. By the end of it, I had all the information I needed so when I spoke to Dad’s consultant a few days later, I knew exactly what to ask.

In contrast to my call with Nicky, the consultant’s time was, understandably, limited and in that time, I was given an avalanche of information. But my conversation with Nicky meant I was in a much better position to take it in and, anything I didn’t understand, I knew I could call Roy Castle’s helpline and get the answers.

I’ve used the Ask the Nurse service many times since, when we found out Dad was going to have radiotherapy and then again to understand what other treatment options were available. I’ve spoken to Nicky most of those times which is great because she knows our situation and we can pick up where we left off rather than having to recap everything. It’s such a personalised service, which is so important in these difficult times.

I’m sure if Dad hadn’t been diagnosed in the middle of the pandemic, a lot of our questions could have been answered by our lung cancer nurse. But this is the reality of the situation and thankfully the Ask the Nurse service has bridged this gap and Nicky is an absolute diamond. She’s so helpful and so patient.

The helpline reminds me of the James song, Oh Sit Down. There’s a line that goes ‘If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor’. Had I not found Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, we would have muddled through Dad’s diagnosis and treatment; we probably could have lived without it.

However, now I know it’s there, now I’ve experienced the benefits of using it, it’s made this awful experience that much more bearable and I’m now more hopeful about Dad’s diagnosis because of Nicky and the Ask the Nurse service.”