"My experience of the NHS during my treatment for Cancer"

About: Royal Devon & Exeter Hospital (Wonford) / Ear, Nose and Throat

(as the patient),

Not sure how to start but lets see what happens!

In April 2011 I underwent surgery for "a large malignant growth" on the left side of my neck, the technical term is a type 2 neck dissection. The date was memorable as it was also the date of the royal wedding between Wills and Kate Middleton. Quite which was the most momentous depends if you know me or not!

How I got to the operating table began a few months earlier when I noticed a swelling to my lymph gland which I put down to a cold or virus, this cleared after a while but came back a while later and this time did not go away, again I put it down to various stresses and strains due to the poor health of my parents which meant a great deal of traveling leaving me very tired and drained, the culmination of which took a turn for the worse when my Father passed away on the 7th sept 2010. Being the only son the organization of the funeral arrangements were my responsibility as Mum was not capable of such tasks.

With my neck problem not going away, I went back to the doctors for a third biopsy which this time showed cancerous cells in a lymph gland/node. From that time on I went into the Hospital system having various consultations, scans and discussions about what was going to happen and what might happen, all of which you can imagine as very daunting with my emotions running wild.

Following the operation from which I emerged looking like “Frankenstein” with my neck held to together with staples and half my neck missing.

The next stage after a short break for me to recover from the surgery was the chemo and radiotherapy treatment which was pretty intense for six weeks every day except weekends. I was warned what to expect from this treatment which gave me the belief that however bad I felt and things got, this was all what was supposed to be happening.

The support from the NHS staff, consultants, doctors, nurses, cancer support was amazing and I can't thank them enough for their help. Mr Brightwell was my consultant, whose hands my future relied on and who did the most amazing job and whatever the future brings he gave me a second chance.

There were several goals I set to keep me going throughout this time from getting back on the golf course, to enjoying life with a different perspective and outlook.

I have been praised for my positive attitude in all this, but I am not sure about that. It was a question of survival with one route to take, that being to fight and get on with it! I couldn’t let my unbelievable girlfriend, family and friends down whose support dragged me on, let alone Mr. Brightwell and the team of dedicated professionals at Wonford.

The NHS is often criticized and much maligned but my experience has been nothing but positive in times when I was at my most vulnerable.

Through this all Mid Devon District council have stood by me every inch of the way, and have continued to support me on my return to work, understanding that sometimes I need rest and also that I constantly am required to go for check ups on a regular basis.

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Response from Sarah Hands, Divisional Complaints Lead for Surgery & Specialist Surgery, Surgery & Specialist Surgery, Royal Devon and Exeter

Thank you for your kind comments, I am pleased your experience with the Royal Devon and Exeter was positive. I will ensure your kind comments are passed onto Mr Brightwell and his team.

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