10th February 2023

Lung cancer care comes in many forms – Andrew’s story

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A lung cancer diagnosis takes its toll on the whole family. As well as the physical implications of a diagnosis and treatment for lung cancer, the emotional impact is often equally overwhelming so it’s important to take care both physically and mentally as much as you.

For Andrew Bessant, and the help of a Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation patient grant, self-care involved a much-needed break away to the seaside as his daughter, Charlotte, explains.

“It was really easy to apply for a lung cancer patient grant for my dad.

“We found out about Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation by searching on Google. I was looking to do some fundraising for a lung cancer charity. I went on the Roy Castle website and saw all the amazing support they give to people affected by lung cancer, including financial support.

“We filled out the form and received the grant soon after. Dad used the money to have a weekend away with my mum, Judith, in a lovely 4-star hotel in Bournemouth. It’s the first time he’s been away since his diagnosis, and he was so grateful for it.

I think it did us all the world of good. As Dad’s carer, it was nice for me to have a little downtime too; his diagnosis took a big toll on my mental health. It’s not something you ever want to go through, but it helps knowing there are charities like Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation out there to turn to when you need them.

“Dad was diagnosed a year ago, in February 2022. He coughed up some blood in January and was sent for an x-ray. That’s when they found a shadow.

“At first, we thought they had caught it early. He was booked in for an operation at St George’s Hospital in London, but we then found out the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes. At this point, he went from stage 3 to stage 4, which was devastating. The surgeon removed all the cancer could from his lung, but we are now faced with an incurable diagnosis.

“After surgery, Dad went on to have chemotherapy. He would have a course of chemo and then a three-week gap. He lost all his hair with the first few rounds of chemo but eventually, he went onto a different type of chemotherapy where you don’t lose your hair, so it’s all grown back now.

Andrew, before and after chemotherapy for lung cancer

“His most recent scans show that the cancer has shrunk. The tumour has gone from 22cm down to 16cm which is great. However, the lymph glands in his chest are still swollen, so we’re currently waiting for an appointment to discuss what else can be done.

“In the meantime, we just have to get on and focus on the day-to-day. We’re doing well considering and the grant and trip certainly helped us all feel a little happier.

“Mum and Dad went to a lovely seafood restaurant next door to the hotel, as Dad can’t walk too far. They drove to the beach, had a nice coffee, and enjoyed the view, then enjoyed a bit of shopping in the town centre.

“They drove home through the New Forest, stopped off to see the horses and have a cup of tea and scones. They said they had the best time ever.

“I think that’s the thing with lung cancer, and life in general, it’s about trying to focus on and enjoy the good moments whenever you can. It doesn’t have to be big, grand milestones or events. We can take so much from the smallest and simplest of pleasures.

“This trip was definitely a happy moment in Dad’s lung cancer journey, and we have Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation to thank for giving us it.”