Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Thank you NHS. You've saved my life.

On July 18th last year, at age 33, I was diagnosed with breast cancer.

That was 277 days ago.

I've had 3 ultrasound scans, 2 CT scans, 1 MRI scan and 1 mammogram. 3 biopsies, 2 Fine Needle Aspirations. 9 blood tests, 1 ECG.
9 appointments with my surgeon, 8 appointments with my oncologists, 2 appointments at Genetics.

6 rounds of chemo, 8 hours in surgery, 15 rounds of radiotherapy.

4 nights in hospital.
There have been 13 cannulas, 30 injections (which I did myself), 1 catheter, 3 drains and 17 hours spent with a -4 degrees cold cap on my head.
I've had a lot of drugs including 1 general anaesthetic, 2 local anaesthetics, 4 different chemotherapy drugs, 3 types of anti sickness drugs, 2 kinds of antibiotic, 18 days on steroids, and all the painkillers ranging from paracetamol to morphine.

I've got a skin graft and 2 other impressive scars. I've had a seroma drained, and an expander implant filled twice.

I've had thrombophlebitis and oral thrush (3 times). My hair fell out. My eyelashes fell out. My eyebrows fell out. My nails became thin, yellow and flaky, and I lost two of my toenails twice. The veins in my arms collapsed.

I've had 1 nipple, 10 lymph nodes and 2  tumours removed.

In the end, I only fainted 5 times :-)

Last Wednesday I had an appointment with one of my oncologists. He checked how my skin was; fine. He checked how I was; fine. He asked if I had any questions; I didn't. He wrote me a prescription for Tamoxifen (a drug which I'll take for 10 years), told me to eat healthily, get moderate exercise and most importantly to be happy. And then he wished me well and sent me on my way.

So I write this just as I am about to leave my house to go to my final radiotherapy session. Today marks the end, finally, of my cancer treatment.

I am alive, with no evidence of disease. And it is all thanks to the NHS.

I don't have better words about the NHS than Harry Smith, who is 91 years old, and knows what life is like without an NHS. Please, take the time to watch this video.

I would like to join with Harry in telling the Conservatives to keep their mitts off our NHS. And I will say it once again, this election I will be voting Labour, and I will be doing it for the NHS. Please, please use your vote, and please also think carefully about the NHS when you do.

Off I go.... see you on the other side! And a big high five from me!

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