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My name is John and this is my story about my battle with pancreatic cancer. Over the last 14 years, I have suffered acute pancreatitis, which has entailed numerous hospital stays. However, in October 2007 I began experiencing stomach problems again, so I was referred to a local hospital for further investigations. This was followed by several hospital visits and stays in Swindon, Poole and Bournemouth.
In March 2008, I became jaundiced and it was necessary for me to have a stent inserted into my bile duct to try and relieve the jaundice. It was during this procedure that the surgeon was able to take a biopsy from my pancreas and I received the devastating news that I had pancreatic cancer.
In June 2008, I had an operation to reposition my bowel and it was following this operation that I was told my cancer was inoperable. The surgeon told me that I only had 3-4 months left to live, maybe a bit longer if I had chemotherapy. Resigning myself to the fact that I was dying, I agreed to try some chemotherapy.
A few weeks after receiving my diagnosis, my wife Mavis was told that the pain in her right hip, that we had suspected was a trapped nerve, was in fact a cancerous tumour and she would need to undergo surgery to replace the hip joint. Mavis had already beaten breast cancer successfully six years previously. We were absolutely devastated when we learnt that Mavis’s cancer had returned; I just thought ‘what else can happen to us?’
In August 2008, I read about Alan Bowley’s story in the Daily Mail and how his cancer had been treated by CyberKnife Radiosurgery. I was amazed by his story and knew I had to investigate it further. I spoke to my specialist, who agreed I had nothing to lose, if it meant saving my life. I immediately contacted the UK representative for the Anadolu Hospital in Turkey. Malcolm, the representative contacted the CyberKnife centre on my behalf and my hospital sent off my records and recent CT scan pictures to them. I soon received the good news that I could be offered CyberKnife treatment. In September 2008, I travelled to Turkey to commence my CyberKnife treatment.
Once I arrived I was informed I was having fiducial placement the following day. The fiducials were inserted into my pancreas through a fine needle under a local anaesthetic. I underwent 3 treatments of CyberKnife ten days later. Each treatment lasted 2 hours, which I found easy and straightforward. I can’t believe how easy the treatment was and I suffered no side effects whatsoever! I could hardly believe the CyberKnife had done anything.
In December 2008, Mavis and I travelled back to Turkey for my 3 month post treatment scan. Although it was a very nerve-wrecking time for me, the staff at the hospital were very reassuring. The scan showed that my tumour had shrunk from 2cm to 1.5cm. We were amazed by this news and so relieved. The doctor in Turkey is pretty positive about my treatment and has told me the tumour may stay there, shrink or be reabsorbed back onto my body.
I’m so grateful that I read about CyberKnife in the Daily Mail because if I hadn’t, I would probably be dead now. CyberKnife is space-age technology; it should be available on the NHS.
I am due to return to Turkey in March for my 6 month post treatment scan. As for my wife Mavis, she is coming to the end of her chemotherapy and will soon begin radiotherapy but she is making good progress. Hopefully we are both on the mend!
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The Stan Bowley Trust is a registered Charity No.1144398 working in partnership with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Charity registered Charity Number 1093989