Lung cancer patient Ivor Miller, 72, shares his experience of obtaining a second opinion after being told that nothing could be done to remove his tumour.
Two years ago, Mr Miller, a former sales representative for a pharmaceutical company, was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) - a condition that causes scarring of the lungs. The progressive nature of IPF meant that Mr Miller had to attend regular check-ups at his local hospital in Bournemouth.
During a routine check-up in July 2014 a shadow was detected in Ivor’s lung which, upon further investigation, revealed a tumour. Ivor’s chest physician told him that the tumour was inoperable as it was attached to the chest wall. She recommended a strong course of chemotherapy and referred Ivor for palliative care.
Ivor became increasingly breathless and was in a great deal of pain. The family pulled together to investigate alternative treatments as they wanted to try every option possible to extend Ivor’s life.
Appointment at Harefield Hospital
After conducting research online, Ivor’s son came across Ms Emma Beddow, a consultant thoracic surgeon who is known throughout the UK for her expertise in lung cancer surgery.
They called Harefield Hospital on the Monday and were seen by Ms Emma Beddow that Friday. She had already reviewed the scan and had confirmed that she would be willing to operate.
Ivor’s wife, Charleen comments:
“This was the best news we had received in ages. We came to Harefield Hospital in pieces, and left with a real sense of hope.”
“We returned to Harefield the following Monday, Ivor had some tests and scans on the Tuesday, and by Thursday he was being operated on by Ms Beddow.”
“The whole process was seamless. The staff in the private patients’ office couldn’t have done more to help. They took over and set the wheels in motion, organising our accommodation and supporting us through an incredibly worrying time.”
“We were kept informed throughout the whole journey, and Ms Beddow even called me at 9pm to tell me that Ivor’s surgery went well.”
Ivor comments: “The results of the surgery have been amazing, and considering the scale of the operation I have recovered very well.”
Ivor continues: “The day after surgery, we received the news that the tumour had been successfully removed and all nodes were clear of cancer. This was a remarkable achievement and we were so grateful to Ms Beddow for taking on the case. A lot of surgeons would not have attempted such a risky surgery, worried that it may affect their performance figures.”
Ms Beddow comments: “We were very pleased with the results of the surgery. Not only were we able to improve Ivor’s quality of life, but we were also able to achieve tumour free margins, increasing the five year survival rate to 40 to 55 per cent. Without this surgery, his survival rate for this period would have been close to zero per cent.”
Charleen concludes: “I have to say that Harefield Hospital is a wonderful place. From the cleaner to all the consultants, every member of staff we encountered had such a positive attitude.”
“Parkwood House, the local accommodation next to the hospital, was my sanctuary. Set up as a ‘home from home’, it has everything you need to relax and be comfortable.”
“In summary, we are very grateful for the care we received at Harefield – it is the closest thing to a miracle that we have ever experienced.”
Consultant thoracic surgeon