10th August 2022

Zoe and Louise’s lung cancer story #needtoscreen

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Our #NeedtoScreen campaign launch last month immediately struck a chord with sisters Zoe and Louise Dorman from Glasgow. They sadly lost their father, John, in May this year, two weeks before his 65th birthday, following a diagnosis of stage four lung cancer just 10 months prior.

Here, the sisters share their personal experience of losing their father, and how, after feeling the pain that too many families face, they decided to back our #needtoscreen campaign.

“I found out about the charity a month ago when I was feeling really down and looking for some help,’ Louise recalls. “The #needtoscreen campaign caught my attention and from there I knew we had to get involved with the charity.”

“Before Dad’s diagnosis,’ said Zoe, “I thought only those who smoked consistently could be diagnosed with lung cancer. Our Dad hadn’t smoked for over 30 years, kept good care of himself, and did not look ill, so it came as such a shock to us when he got his diagnosis.

“I did not realise how quickly his cancer type grew and how uncontrollable it actually is when caught at stage four. I thought we would have had another 3-5 years with Dad after finding out his diagnosis. I never thought 10 months down the line, Dad would no longer be with us.”

Lung cancer is, sadly, still the biggest cancer killer in the UK, with 42% of people diagnosed every year with stage four disease, when treatments options are limited.

Early diagnosis is the key to promoting better outcomes for all with lung cancer.

A big step towards improving early diagnosis rates came when the Targeted Lung Health Check programme started rolling out in 2019. Currently, this operates only in England; Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland do not yet have access to lung health checks.

That’s why we are urging the National Screening Committee to launch a screening programme across the whole of the UK.

“A national lung screening programme could help prolong or even potentially save the lives of lung cancer patients,’ said Zoe. “It would prevent them, and their loved ones, from having to experience the pain and hurt our family feel every day.”

“Dad was only one year away from retiring – a chapter of his life he had been looking forward to experiencing with our Mum – a retirement he well deserved to enjoy.

“It’s been hard for us all,’ said Louise. “Home isn’t the same without him, I keep expecting him to answer the door when I visit Mum, or see his name pop up on my phone with a message or call. It’s difficult adjusting to a life without him. I’m currently planning my wedding day and knowing he won’t be there to walk me down the aisle breaks my heart.”

“We are so glad to have found Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, as they’re working extremely hard to improve the experiences of lung cancer for patients and their families.”

“We have to remind ourselves he is now at peace and no longer suffering or in pain,’ said Zoe. “On the days that are really difficult, we remind ourselves that Dad would want us to continue to live a happy and fulfilling life; a life that he gave us to cherish.

“So now, we do try to live each day the best we can – of course for ourselves, and our family and friends that surround us – but mainly for Dad. To thank him for giving us a life to live, teaching us all the life lessons we will carry through for the rest of our days, for being our Number One supporter; always being proud of us no matter what. But overall, most importantly, to thank him for being the best Dad that anyone could have ever asked for. That is ultimately what keeps us going every day – the love he had for us, unconditionally. And that kind of love, a love so strong, we will carry in our hearts, for the rest of our lives.”