Patient perspective – cancer care during the pandemic

23 July 2020

One of our cancer patients recently shared their story with medical journal BMJ:

“One week into lockdown, I was diagnosed with stage 4 testicular cancer. I found an abnormal growth but rather than bother the GP straight away. I waited a few days. When I called they said because I didn’t have any abdominal pain it could wait. Five days later I had horrendous pains in my stomach so called 111 and they told me to go straight to the emergency department.

I went to Kingston Hospital and they moved quickly to do an x ray and I moved from one doctor to the next and the last one was an oncologist. I was back for a scan the following morning and they immediately referred me to the Royal Marsden Hospital. I went from diagnosis to starting treatment in nine days. Looking back, it was stupid of me not to push to see the GP but, because of everything going on, I didn’t want to bother them.

The consultant fully explained their plan which involved some minor tweaks to one of the chemotherapy drugs because of the pandemic. It was all very quick, including a trip to the sperm bank, and I can’t fault them on anything. They explained that in normal circumstances they would remove the testicle first and then do chemotherapy but for me the safer option was to start chemotherapy as quickly as possible and have the surgery later.

I’ll be having four cycles over 12 weeks and I go in for six days and have 18-19 hours of chemotherapy a day. After a two week break, I’m in for the next one.

I’m shielding, as is my girlfriend who I live with, and going into hospital was a bit scary in a pandemic but they have had very stringent rules. You have a covid-19 test before you go back in for a cycle of treatment and they’ve split the wards into zones.

They’ve done their absolute best in a horrible situation. You can’t believe the care they take with each patient. I can only describe it as absolutely amazing.”

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