The introduction of lung screening pilots is one of the biggest steps forward in recent years, saving the lives of people like Sandra. As part of our World Cancer Day series, Sandra shares her experience of the pilot programme in Halton and how she believes it saved her life.
“You never think going on Facebook would change your life but in my case, it did! I was just scrolling and an advert popped for the lung health check. I fitted the criteria – I was the right age and I used to smoke, although I gave up decades earlier.
“I then received a letter inviting me for the check a few days later. For a fleeting moment, it crossed my mind not to go. I felt well, I didn’t have any symptoms, plus it was near Christmas so things were busy. However, I realised it was important and so rang there and then.
“I had a telephone appointment with a triage nurse. She asked me questions about my general health and my smoking history. She then said she thought I would benefit for a CT scan. The scanner was in the car park of a supermarket nearby. It was so convenient so I agreed to have the scan. I actually combined the trip with my weekly shop!
“I was there for less than 10 minutes. I was back out before my actual appointment time!
“I was not concerned in any way whatsoever. I had the scan and kind of forgot about it. I didn’t think anything wrong because I had no symptoms, so I was very surprised when I got the phone call.
“It was probably a week after my scan and they told me they found a nodule larger than what they’d expect to find, and would I go for a PET scan. It was after this scan that I went to see the doctor and she explains that I had very early stage lung cancer and would need surgery to remove it.
“They said it would be keyhole surgery, which was a big relief. They also said that from what they could see, it hadn’t spread. I was still obviously very frightened. It was scary and, even though it had been caught early, all kinds of thing go through your head. But I felt so fortunate that it had been caught so early.
“I went into hospital on 22nd March 2022, had the surgery the next day and was back home on Mothers Day. Less than a week after my operation, I went out for a meal with my daughter to the pub. Within two weeks, I was doing my own cooking and just getting back to normal. That’s how quick my recovery was.
“Seven weeks after surgery, we went on holiday to Devon. People were so shocked that I had had surgery for lung cancer so recently. They said I looked so well, and I felt it. I didn’t know you could have lung cancer and feel so well as I do. And it’s all because I replied to that advert and letter.”