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1st November 2021

Tracy spotted the difference

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Working for the NHS, Tracy always tells her patients to give her the full story of their illness so when she had a second chest infection in a couple of months, Tracy made sure she told her GP about both. Recognising this was unusual for her, the GP sent her for an x-ray immediately…

“I’d started with a cold and a cough around Christmas time and it made me go a bit chesty. However, it seemed to resolve on its own so I didn’t think too much about it.

However, a couple of months later, in March, I started again with a chest infection. At first, I just put it down to the first chest and because I hadn’t had any antibiotics, maybe it hadn’t fully resolved and therefore caused this second one. I was quite poorly with this one so I did go to the doctors and, because I work for the NHS and know it’s important to tell them everything, I mentioned the first infection.

Something just sort of clicked with him. He asked if I was normally fit and healthy and I am. Like everyone, I have the odd cough and cold but I usually shake it off quite quickly so this was unusual for me. That was when he said he would like to send me for an x-ray.

Eight years

I was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer in April 2019 with a carcinoma in the right upper lobe. In fact, they told me that it was a slow grabbing carcinoma and I could have had it for up to eight years. I just couldn’t believe that there was something growing inside me for possibly eight years and those two chest infections were the first sign of it!

I kept thinking how could I have caught it because I have never smoked. Then I thought back to when I worked in a pottery factory. I’m from Stoke-on-Trent and we’re known as the Potteries. I worked in pottery factories for 20 years. There was so much dust and I worked with wet clay. Maybe this could have been the cause, I don’t know?

Despite possibly having the tumour for up to eight years, I was still diagnosed early for surgery and I didn’t need any follow up chemotherapy, which was a huge relief to me.

I had my surgery in May. It was initially scheduled for the 10th May but had to be cancelled because the surgeon was only doing emergency operations that day. I was devastated; I just wanted this thing out of me. I spoke to the secretary and she could clearly hear how distressed I was so she asked if I would be happy if another surgeon performed the operation and thankfully, I was then booked in for the following week.

Just one month later…

I was very nervous having surgery but my niece works in theatre so they let her wait with me until I was get down. Three or four hours later, I woke up in critical care. Obviously, I was in a fair bit of pain but the nurses and critical care team were absolutely fantastic.

I came out of hospital on the 21st May 2019 and I was actually due to be going on holiday to Fuerteventura on the 26th June! I spoke to my consultant and he was confident I would be ok to go and I was, so a month after having part of my lung removed, I went on holiday! I imagine a lot of people will be quite surprised by that! I obviously took things easy but it was just wonderful.

I then went back to work in October and two and a half years later, life is totally back to normal – well as normal as it can be after a pandemic!

I am just so grateful for the experience I had, that the GP I saw spotted that these chest infections were unusual for me and sent me for that x-ray. But I’m also grateful that I made sure I told him the full picture because if I hadn’t mentioned the previous chest infection, if I had just dismissed it or thought it wasn’t relevant, then things might have been very different.

It is important that you tell the doctor everything, even if it was something that happened a couple of months back. Tell them all the symptoms that you have been experiencing – even if they don’t seem relevant. It’s important that they get all that information because from that information, they then have a story. And my story had a very happy ending.”