It all started in November 2013.
At the age of 81 years and in good physical health I noticed blood where there should not be blood.
I talked to my very excellent GP, Doctor Thomas and from here the magnificent NHS rolled into motion…and my life changed considerably.
I learned a new language. Words and acronyms such as CT scan, MRi, colonoscopy, adenocarcinoma, endoscopy and sigmoidoscope became familiar terms between my wife and I over breakfast. We have known each other since we were seven and nine and been married for 58 years but I think we have used more syllables with each other over the past two years than the previous seventy odd.
The results of the tests revealed malignant polyps.
At this point Mr Zeiderman a Consultant Surgeon at Southport and Formby Hospital, had the wisdom to suggest Papillon treatment as an alternative to the certainly brutal and potentially life threatening choice of surgery.
This brought me into contact with brilliant Professor Sun Myint and the fine team at Clatterbridge and once assessed, entry onto the Papillon programme of treatment.
This treatment can in no way be reported as pleasant but the undignified positions imposed on one and the fears and uncertainties implicit in the whole experience were substantially relieved by the personal respect and good humour of the team throughout every visit. They made the unpleasant bearable and the embarrassing of no consequence. I had many occasions to be glad that I had chosen engineering rather than medicine for my profession and many, many more when I was glad that this team had chosen medicine over engineering!
The concentrated period of contact and blast radiotherapy lasted 5 weeks and the associated treatment and review has taken a little over two years.
At this point I am described as having achieved a complete clinical response. I think this means I am clear and healthy. I know that it means that I am writing this sitting in the sunshine in my garden next to my wife and eldest daughter and that my major concern in life is how to rid the patio of weeds.
For this I am full of gratitude.
To everybody involved in the treatment from my GP at home, Mr Zeiderman, Dr Butcher and Jo Sutton in Southport and of course Professor Mynit and everybody involved at Clatterbridge. Their expertise, professionalism, kindness, and wit through the whole experience have been magnificent.
If you reading this – facing the same choices I faced three years ago take the advice of a happy, healthy 84-year-old man and go and see Professor Mynit and tell him ‘Jim Pendleton sent you’