1st July 2024

Michael’s lung cancer story

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Rebecca Cain, a pharmacy technician for cancer services in Fife, worked in the chemotherapy unit where people received treatment. Rebecca loves her job, but having to watch her husband come in for treatment turned her life upside down.

“It was hard seeing him sitting in the chair getting his chemotherapy, but he made it so much easier for me with his positive and friendly attitude.

“I was married to Michael for 34 years and we have a lovely 21-year-old son Evan, who is at college.

“Michael was an ambulance paramedic, which is a job he excelled in. He was a laid-back, friendly person who took everyone at face value. He never saw bad in anyone and was happy with what he had. He never chased any “big” dream; he always said he was living his dream with Evan and me.”

“He was a non-smoker and always looked after himself and kept fit. He was part of a running group and would run regularly – he even ran the Kirkcaldy half marathon a couple of years ago!

“Michael had been at his running club one night in April 2021 when his hip began feeling sore, but he continued to finish the session. In the days after that, his hip continued to pain him so while he was at work in the Accident and Emergency department at the hospital, he mentioned this to the doctor on duty. 

“He sent Michael for an x-ray which showed he had a tear in his hip. He was referred to an orthopaedic consultant who advised Michael to just leave it for now to see if it would heal on its own. It did start to heal and we thought that would be it. 

“However, a month later his hip was even worse. Michael had to use crutches to get about. The consultant decided to send him for an MRI and then a CT scan.”

“When he went for the scan the radiographer suggested scanning his chest and abdomen alongside his hip. This was when they discovered he had a 7cm tumour on his lung which had spread to his hip as well, meaning his lung cancer had become stage 4.”

“Michael was in disbelief and I was devastated as I see it all the time at my work. Michael was amazing though and after some tears from us we decided we would fight it head-on. 

“Michael got a CT-led biopsy which didn’t go well, his lung collapsed and he was in hospital for a week. He also had to get a hip replacement before his treatment which he had to travel for before he could begin his cancer treatment.

“He was so brave and just said he would do what it takes to be here longer with myself and Evan. 

“The results of his biopsy showed that he was a match for targeted therapy and he was started on Afatanib in November 2021. Michael did really well on this tablet and he was on it for 15 months until, unfortunately, he had disease progression. The tumour had spread to his brain. 

“This was devastating as it now meant Michael had to come off afatinib and start chemotherapy. So, in March 2023 he had to change his treatment. He got 10 sessions of radiotherapy and then straight onto chemotherapy. 

“This completely floored Michael and I thought we were going to lose him. He picked himself up from rock bottom and we even went on holiday together in August 2023.

“He always looked forward and never back, even when we got bad news in December that year. His chemotherapy had stopped working and his cancer was spreading. Before Michael could start different chemotherapy he had to get a tooth out as it was infected. I was in awe of how he continued to fight his disease with such bravery and determination. 

“Michael started different chemotherapy in February 2024 but we both knew he was running out of options if this did not work. 

“Unfortunately, Michael started showing signs of brain metastases and he began having small seizures. This was very difficult to watch.

“My gorgeous strong man became vulnerable. He continued to stay at home but in April 2024 he had to be admitted into the hospice to help him control his symptoms. After all the lives Michael had saved in his job he deserved to be settled and pain-free. 

“Sadly Michael passed away on 24th April and although it was incredibly sad, we all take comfort from knowing him and having such a lovely person in our lives.”

“Michael’s funeral was so busy. There were about 500 people who attended which was a reflection of the love everyone had for him. Together we raised £1341 for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. 

“I am hoping this donation will benefit people like Michael and Roy, who never smoked but were diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. My wish is that this money can be put towards further screening for more people. 

“If you have lungs, you can get lung cancer – charities like this are important for raising awareness of the signs and symptoms for everyone, not just smokers. Michael didn’t have any symptoms until it was too late.”