8th June 2023

There is life after lung cancer

View all Early detection

Over the past few years, we have heard a lot about the impact of Covid on lung cancer. Crossover in symptoms and access to their GP has led to many people receiving a later-stage diagnosis. However, for Warren Gray, the pandemic proved to be a lifesaver…

“It was only because of Covid that I took notice of my persistent cough. Had we not just lived through the pandemic, I’m not sure I would have been overly concerned about it, or even noticed it at all.

The cough started around October 2021. My GP sent me straight for a chest x-ray. Knowing what I know now, I believe this made all the difference to my story and I am forever grateful. I know many people, particularly younger patients and people who haven’t smoked, aren’t always referred for tests as quickly as this.

Soon after the x-ray, I was sent for a CT scan. The CT confirmed there was a suspected malignancy. At that point, I felt like my life was falling apart.

I was in utter disbelief. How could I have lung cancer? I never took risks and always tried to lead a healthy lifestyle. I was running over 20 miles a week and didn’t feel unwell. People would always say I was the picture of health so how could this happen to someone like me?

I was so scared and very angry; at just 44, I felt that I had been cheated out of my life. That day, I sat down and wrote letters to each of my loved ones because I honestly thought my life was over.”

I look back now, and I am amazed at how far I have come, and how well I am. I now know that there are so many amazing treatments for lung cancer, and options are changing, expanding, and improving all the time. Having experienced it first hand, I have a much different and more positive outlook now. There is life after lung cancer.

“My official diagnosis was stage 3a non-small cell lung cancer, confirmed only after I had surgery as the biopsy was inconclusive. I then had mop up chemotherapy in March 2022 and precautionary radiotherapy in August 2022 due to the challenging location of my cancer.

I am now no evidence of disease (NED). I am not on any more treatment and just having regular follow ups. It is a very different picture to what I first expected following those initial tests.”

“I am also back running again, which was something I thought I might never be able to do again. Running is one of my passions. I love it and have even run marathons before so I was really scared that my treatment would stop me running long distance. I was so frightened in fact that I did a 7.5-mile run before my surgery just in case it was my last chance! But it wasn’t and I’m back running regularly.

I’ve also set up a direct debit to support Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation. When it comes to lung cancer, Google is a scary place. The Roy Castle website on the other hand was full of useful and hopeful information and stories. Now I’m in the position to give back, I choose to support the charity that supported me.

I also want to help Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation raise awareness. The more I get involved with the charity, the more I hear about other people like me who you would never expect to get lung cancer.

But whilst I was referred immediately and diagnosed early, the majority faced delays to their diagnosis and, as a result, are now living with late stage disease, unable to benefit from the same treatments that I did. Everyone should have the best chance to beat lung cancer like me. Early intervention and detection is the key and I want to do everything I can to help others have the same experience that I did.”