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Gordon Garrett Patient Story
I was diagnosed with a bile duct tumour in June 2003, after showing signs of jaundice a week prior to an operation to straighten my nose after many years of rugby injuries. I was totally numbed initially, as it came as a bolt out of the blue. Why me, when I had always tried to stay fit and healthy? When asked if I was happy to go ahead with the proposed surgery, despite being advised of the various risks which accompany most operations, I had no hesitation about going ahead on the basis that no action would leave me with about 12 months to live. A comment from a junior doctor who said that if they had to have that operation, they would want the consultant I was seeing to carry it out, helped immensely.
I was operated on, and a Whipple procedure was carried out within two weeks of diagnosis. I think the operation took 9 hours and I spent a day in intensive care and two days in a high dependency ward before transferring to the main ward. I was fortunate not to need any painkillers a day after the epidural was removed. I had been pretty fit for a 56 year old at the time, running several times a week and playing squash twice a week. My rehabilitation began about eight days after the op but the rehabilitation to full fitness began in earnest two days after going home. Eating sufficiently was a problem for a couple of weeks as food did not taste the same as I had remembered. My appetite was diminished, and it took many months to get back to the weight I had been prior to the op. The histology revealed I did not need follow-up chemotherapy, as no spread of the cells was detected. Neither did I develop diabetes.
For about a week the stomach incision had prevented me from walking at any pace faster than a shuffle. I had however managed full squats and walking the length of Ewing at Southampton General (about 1/4 mile at a time) before leaving hospital. After walking at home for a couple of weeks, I tried jogging very gently, and started running again after about 3 weeks. 3 months after the op I ran 12 miles with a friend who wanted to get training in for a local half marathon. I returned to playing rugby the following winter, but retired quite soon after when I found greater pleasure in watching my local first team. Probably a sensible decision for someone at that age, even without my history. I continued playing squash and running until about two years ago when an old knee cartilage injury played up, and I made the decision to quit, hoping that the knee would “see me out” without the need for surgery or a new knee joint.I needed to find alternative exercise, so a year ago I took up indoor rowing and bought a Concept 2 machine, the type that you find in most gyms. It is a non weight bearing exercise, and as I discovered, is not an easy alternative. After a few months posting my times for 5000 metres and the distance rowed in 1 hour, I peaked reaching the top 5% for the 60-69 age group presumably worldwide, as users of the Concept machines, which are standard for rowing competitions, upload their results globally. I have reduced the competitive element in my rowing now, and use it just to keep fit, and have fallen down the rankings. Maybe next year…..I had been unable to do many sit-ups prior to rowing and subsequent to the operation,and the six pack had turned into a party seven, however the rowing strengthened my stomach muscles to the point where I can now do 200 crunches at a time. Diet wise, I can eat all the foods I had eaten prior to 2003, but do try to restrict the amount of onion I consume. I can eat large meals comfortably despite the loss of half of my stomach. Eight years down the road, and I still forget occasionally to take my pancreatic enzyme supplements with my meals, with uncomfortable but not unbearable consequences.
Some might say I have been very fortunate and I would agree. However, I am convinced that my fitness prior to the op and my determination to get into a fitness regime again was a major contributory factor in getting life back to normal. I am always aware however that the CT scan I now have every two years, (it was annually) suggests that the possibility of a recurrence of the cancer has not gone away completely. I never say I have beaten it, but try to give myself the best chance of staying cancer free. Nine years ago I never imagined I would feel so upbeat about getting close to receiving my old age pension.
At a friend’s house about 18 months ago, I met quite by chance someone who was about to undergo chemotherapy and a Whipple procedure. I told them of my experience, and although not trained to offer advice, decided that I would not under state the difficulties which she would experience. After a successful op, she told me that my talk had helped her greatly when she remembered, particularly when feeling low and in pain, that there would be a light at the end of the tunnel so to speak. If I could help others feel confident about recovery, I would be most happy to do so and to share my experiences.
Gordon Garrett Jan 2012
READ ABOUT HOW FUNDS ARE USED
PLANETS completes £1 million fundraising campaign to purchase pioneering radiotherapy machine
PLANETS has thanked its supporters after completing a £1 million fundraising campaign and making the final payment for a pioneering radiotherapy machine. PLANETS Cancer Charity has been fundraising for the past six years to fully purchase Mobetron, a revolutionary mobile device which delivers radiotherapy during surgery – known as intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT). When the charity […]
PLANETS Receive £10,000 Grant from The Hospital Saturday Fund
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PLANETS Fund ‘New View’ Psychotherapy Course for NET Patients
PLANETS have funded a psychotherapy programme, after a successful pilot course, to help NET patients see their diagnosis in a ‘new view’. We all know that different people deal with their neuroendocrine cancer diagnosis very differently. Initially there are lots of scary tests and Doctor appointments. Then there are lots of talk about […]
Head and Neck Cancer Patient Treated with IORT in UK First
A woman from Salisbury has become the first patient in the UK with head and neck cancer to receive radiotherapy in the operating theatre during surgery to remove a recurrent tumour. Jayne Garrett, 53, underwent major surgery at University Hospital Southampton on 25 April after suffering a recurrence of her cancer following conventional treatment […]
PLANETS Host the 1st National IORT Symposium
It was an honour to present the fantastic work and great initial results to medics from all over the country at our 1st National IORT (intra-operative radiotherapy) Symposium on Friday June 21st at University Hospital Southampton. After a lot of hard work and fundraising in order to bring IORT to the UK for the […]
PLANETS Cancer Charity and the Robert White Trust, Fund a new regional NET Cancer Dietitian
A dietitian funded by PLANETS Cancer Charity and the Robert White Trust Fund is due to start work to develop and provide a comprehensive dietetic service to patients diagnosed with Neuroendocrine Cancer (NETs). Ruth Lee will be based at the Dorset NET service, which is part of the Wessex European Neuroendocrine tumour society centre […]
Southampton Secure £200k from The Robert White Trust for NETs Research
PLANETS are excited to share the news that University Hospital Southampton have secured £200,000 funding from the Robert White Trust for a research project that aims to gain a better understanding of NET biology which may lead to a greater range of treatment options for patients with this rare disease. Robert White was a former […]
Bowel cancer patient becomes first in UK to be treated with IORT
We are thrilled and proud to update our supporters that a Southampton bowel cancer patient has become the first in the UK to receive radiotherapy during surgery using the IORT machine that PLANETS has funded. he 58-year-old male, who completed a combination of conventional chemotherapy and radiotherapy in August, underwent major surgery at Southampton […]
IORT Launch is a Success!
SOUTHAMPTON CLINICIANS PIONEER USE OF REVOLUTIONARY CANCER DEVICE PLANETS founders Neil Pearce and Brian Stedman, together with fund manager Layla Stephen successfully launched our long awaited IORT machine last night. The Mobetron is the first portable system able to administer the treatment in this way – known as intraoperative radiotherapy (IORT) – and will […]
IORT Arrives at Southampton!
PLANETS are thrilled to announce that the eagle (finally) has landed! 2 tons of intra-operative radio-therapy machine (IORT) arrived from the USA this week – currently undergoing acceptance testing. This is the UK’s first ever mobile electron beam radiotherapy machine for treating cancers during surgery. Thanks to everyone who has supported our fundraising which has […]
Southampton Aiding Research into Earlier Diagnosis for Pancreatic Cancer
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Sainsbury’s Hedge End Donate Digital Radios
A big thank you to Sainsbury’s Hedge End for donating two digital radios to PLANETS to be used in the lead lined Gamma Scanner Rooms at Southampton General. Pictured presenting the radios to staff in the scanner rooms are PLANETS Fund Manager, Layla Stephen, and Dr Brian Stedman.
PLANETS to Fund Pancreatic Cancer Research at Southampton
PLANETS Charitable Fund are excited to have committed to provide a grant over a two year period for a pancreatic research project: ́The role of Eps8 in αvβ6-dependent functions in pancreatic cancer invasion’ to be undertaken by Dr Jo Tod. Pancreatic adenocarcinoma (PC) has one of the worst outcomes of any cancer; only 3.7% of patients […]
First Patient Receives PRRT at Southampton thanks to PLANETS
[social_button button=”facebook” flayout=”standard ” fwidth=”450″ faction=”like” fcolorsheme=”light”] UHS magazine Connect featured a fantastic article about NET patient Maureen McKenzie who, in July 2013, became the first Southampton patient to receive PRRT (peptide receptor radionuclide therapy). The equipment for this treatment was jointly funded by UHS and PLANETS showing just how important and valuable the […]
Improving Patient Services Across the Region
[social_button button=”facebook” flayout=”standard ” fwidth=”450″ faction=”like” fcolorsheme=”light”] Pancreatic cancer affects over 8000 patients each year in the uk and remains the fifth biggest cancer killer in the UK, despite this its has been underfunded for many years and currently receives just 1% of total cancer research funding in the UK. NETs are a rare form […]
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