You may expect a man in Richard’s situation to be angry. After contracting Covid in March 2020, Richard was left with an aggressive cough. He had several telephone consultations with his GP, but the pandemic meant he couldn’t get a face-to-face appointment until August. Three x-rays later and then a subsequent CT scan, Richard was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. But he is not angry and is now sharing his story to help others avoid a similar situation.
“Post COVID, I was left with quite an aggressive cough. I managed to get some telephone consultations with my GP who prescribed antibiotics. However, after a couple of weeks, the cough would return. This went on for a couple more telephone conversations with the GP, again prescribing antibiotics.
At the time, I was not overly concerned. Even though the cough was quite aggressive, it didn’t really affect my life. It didn’t stop me being active. Obviously going to see a GP at that time was difficult anyway, and I wouldn’t have thought to bother a GP with a cough anyway. In fact, it was my wife that actually made me go and insists that I saw someone to treat the cough.
In August 2020, I saw the triage nurse who sent me for my first x-ray, which came back that there was a shadow on the lung. They continued to prescribe me antibiotics, thinking it was just an infection and this sequence continued another for a further two occasions. But on the third x-ray, they found that the shadow had actually got larger. It increased slightly. At that point, they decided to send me for a CT scan.
At first, they thought my lung cancer was operable but a PET scan revealed the cancer had already spread to my femur and pelvis. Whilst my cancer was not curable, it is treatable and for that I am so grateful.
I’m very fortunate because the targeted treatment I am on allows me to lead a very normal life. I’m suffering very minimal side effects, and I’m still active. I’m still working. I’m doing all the things that I’ve done prior to my prognosis, so life is pretty good.
I am a very positive type of person. I always try and see the positive things. Every day is an extra day! I’ve got great support from my colleagues at work and, of course, from my family and friends. Life, it continues; there’s laughter, there’s tears, there’s arguments, there’s celebrations. It’s normal.
I’m not angry about the time that it took to get the diagnosis. Obviously, the whole world was going through an unprecedented situation with the coronavirus pandemic and people were trying their very best to control the situation. It’s just a fact of life that at that moment in time, when I was probably needed to see a GP, it just wasn’t available.
But things are different now. They are returning to normal so my advice to anyone that’s experiencing the symptoms that I had would be to really consider going and see your GP.
If a cough is not going away, then there’s a reason why it’s not going away. It could be nothing, but, on the other hand, there could be something really serious. I’m a typical male. I wouldn’t normally go bother a doctor but I now know differently. You need to go and get checked out if you’ve got those symptoms. It’s really important.
I don’t want people to have to go through what I’ve gone through, but more importantly, I don’t want other families to go through what my family has gone through and continues to go through. Lung cancer affect everyone, not just the person diagnosed. It affects their family too, so much and if I can help someone get early diagnosis and actually have treatment and have a successful outcome, then that’s everything.”