25th June 2016

Pat Tollady

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When Pat started experiencing extreme tiredness, both she and her GP were at a loss as to why. An x-ray eventually found the cause – stage 1a non-small cell lung cancer. Pat wanted to share her lung cancer story to highlight why you should never ignore a symptom – no matter how inconsequential it may seem.

“I’ve always been fit and healthy, rarely visiting a doctor. However, in September 2014, I began to feel extremely tired. I couldn’t understand why – I was working just 20 hours a week, my two children had flown the nest and my husband was working abroad in Qatar so I was hardly exerting myself.

I’d come home from work exhausted, in desperate need for a nap but feeling no better afterwards. I lost count of how many times the doctor sent me for blood tests but they kept coming back normal. Eventually it got too much – I knew I shouldn’t be feeling this way. By then I was also complaining of shoulder pain and my breathing was raspy.

At a loss of what to do the doctor sent me for an x-ray. I presumed I was having my shoulder x-rayed but the doctor had actually ordered a chest x-ray. I was about to walk out – my chest felt fine – but the nurse persuaded me to stay.

Thank God she did; the results revealed a shadow on my left lung.

The doctor referred me for a CT scan. I remember thinking ‘what a waste of time’. However, by the time I got home, the doctor had called to say they didn’t like what they had seen and referred me to a lung cancer specialist. Within weeks I had a biopsy and a PET scan.

On 2nd April 2015 I was diagnosed with stage 1A non-small cell lung cancer in my upper left lobe. I couldn’t have been more shocked.

Fortunately, because of my age and health, I could have surgery to remove the affected lobe. I had a lobectomy just two weeks later. Luckily, it hadn’t affected my lymph nodes and I didn’t need further treatment.

Positive mental attitude

I found the whole experience surreal, as if it wasn’t happening to me. I tried to protect my family from it, not letting them know how serious it was; I didn’t want them to worry. Every day, I thought about how lucky I have been and, thanks to all the support I received from my wonderful family and friends, I was able to remain positive.

As difficult as it is, I would encourage anyone going through lung cancer to try to stay positive. Lean on your family and friends. Let them help you as much as they can. I think it helps them as much as it helps the person going through it.

It’s also vital that, like me, you push for answers if you think something isn’t right. After all, you know your body better than anyone.

I was aware of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation but, until having lung cancer myself, had left the fundraising and raising awareness to others. I’m happy to be on board now though, promoting the Foundation whenever I can.

The Wirral Walk was my first fundraising event. About 20 of my family and friends walked with me – which was amazing. I have been friends with some of them for over 27 years.

Pat, walking with Wirral Walk with friends.

I am so blessed to have them in my life. So far this year, we’ve had two engagements, three new jobs and we are looking forward to two weddings and a 60th birthday. Life is never dull and I’m so glad I’m here to enjoy it.”