15th September 2020

Lung cancer is Still Here: Keshu Lakhman Odedra

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With focus diverted onto covid, lung cancer symptoms are going undetected. But lung cancer is a disease that can spread quickly so it’s important to act as soon as you start experiencing symptoms. Time really is of the essence as Dipti knows all too well…

“My dad, Keshu, went into hospital on 22nd August 2019. Ten days later, he was gone.

Dad had been losing weight for a while. He was quite happy to have a lost a few kilos, telling us he was just watching his diet and he looked pretty good for it. Even when the cough started, we still didn’t think too much of it. He was only 53 and a non-smoker, so lung cancer didn’t even cross our minds.

Like many men, my Dad wasn’t a fan of the doctors. He would always just write it off as it’ll be fine. But the cough hung around and started to get quite bad, so my mum and I persuaded him to go. He was given antibiotics a couple of times, but they didn’t work. The doctors didn’t seem too concerned, again because of his age and medical history; he was fit and healthy.

But after the second or third round of antibiotics, I was starting to get worried and quite confused. It was clear the antibiotics weren’t working, so why did he keep getting prescribed them? Why wasn’t anything else being done? It wasn’t until mid-August that Dad finally went for a scan and we finally learnt the devastating truth; dad had stage 4 lung cancer.

Dad took the news in his stride, staying strong for me and my mum. They were going to start chemotherapy on the 5th September. But he never made it to that day.

Benefit from my hindsight

Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Knowing what I know now about lung cancer, as soon as that weight loss happened, we shouldn’t have just listened to my Dad saying it’s just diet. He’s never lost weight, what were we thinking?

I wish we’d questioned all these things when it was all happening. The cough was there, and we never questioned it. I wish we’d pushed harder with the doctors and asked for an X-ray or. It just took so long, and we’ve lost him as a result. I don’t know if he would still be here if we had known about it or pushed a bit harder.

I wish I could just go around with a big sign on my back which says ‘If you’ve got a cough just go to the doctor. If there’s anything you feel is not right, you have to go to your doctor. People do just write these symptoms off and it’s not right. You have to go, not just for yourself but for your loved ones too.

This is why I wanted to be part of the Still Here campaign. Losing a loved one so quickly, it just shows how important it is to get yourself checked out because you just don’t know how little time you have. Even if you don’t suspect it to be anything serious, it’s so important to go and get yourself checked out.

It is so hard to talk about Dad but if, by doing so, I could prevent just one person from losing their life that would be so good. No one wants to lose their Dad.

My best friend

My dad was so good. We were such good friends. I could talk to him about things I couldn’t speak to my Mum about. That was so special. I miss having that person.

I used to speak to my Dad every day. I used to ring him on the way to work. Often, it was just a quick ‘Hi, how are you doing. I’m up to this and that today.’

Whenever I was in trouble or if I had a problem, I would ring Dad. He’d always have the best advice and would always say the right thing. I think that’s what I miss the most.”

Keshu’s lung cancer was very aggressive and the delay in getting diagnosed meant he wasn’t able to start treatment which could have given him more time with his daughter and wife.

If you are experiencing symptoms, including weight loss or a persistent cough like Keshu, please contact your doctor. The NHS is still here and, if you are unwell, they want to see you.