In 2008, Joe was successfully treated for lung cancer in the right lung with CHART radiotherapy. But five years’ later, at his final check-up, doctors noticed a shadow on his lung. A new, second cancer. In 2014, Joe had surgery to remove the upper lobe of his right lung and now needs to have his chest drained via a hole in his armpit. Joe has been a media volunteer for more than seven years. In that time he's shared his story with regional and national press, including television appearances, and supported us with various campaigns like Legacies and Relay For Life.
Joe was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 2008 after suffering from a persistent cough. He had been a smoker but had given up three months before his diagnosis. “It knocked my socks off,” Joe remembers. “But within 20 minutes of getting the news, I was speaking to the doctors about the way forward. That really helped.”
The initial plan was for Joe to have surgery to remove the tumour. But during the operation the surgeons discovered that the cancer was more extensive than they had thought, so Joe was put on CHART radiotherapy, a treatment developed by Cancer Research UK. “The radiotherapy was tiring, but when I had the next CT scan the doctors told me there’d been a massive improvement,” says Joe.
The cancer was successfully treated, but five years’ later, at Joe’s final check-up, the doctors noticed a shadow on his lung. A new, second cancer. “The first diagnosis was a real shock. The second became almost inevitable,” Joe remembers. “But I’d been there before, and I knew my team were doing everything they could.”
In 2014, Joe had surgery to remove the upper lobe of his right lung, but a hidden side effect of the earlier CHART radiotherapy meant that his lung was stuck to the inner lining of his chest. Although the surgeon managed to remove it completely, a serious infection developed in the cavity which means that Joe now needs to have his chest drained via a hole in his armpit.
“It’s inconvenient, but that’s all it is,” says Joe. “I have a dressing over the hole which needs changing every day. I can’t go swimming, take a bath or stand under a shower, but my years as a Royal Navy nuclear submariner stand me in good stead for getting around that.”
Joe is now a keen supporter of Cancer Research UK and helps to raise awareness of the disease and the importance of research in his local community. “Research is vital to improve the lives of people with lung cancer,” he says. “It was hard to hear that I had lung cancer twice, but I find it encouraging to hear about new research that’s underway and the progress that scientists are making to help more people beat the disease in the future.”
Joe, 62, is an engineering safety consultant from Derby.