Allan’s story – A second opinion for cancer treatment gave me hope
Allan felt he had no hope for the future when receiving chemotherapy for colorectal cancer which spread to his liver. Suffering from severe nausea, diarrhoea and fatigue, he decided he needed to take control of his treatment plan and explore the alternatives provided by private cancer care.
Prior to his diagnosis, Allan, a 71 year old, had dismissed the blood in his stools, as normal for someone with haemorrhoids, and was shocked to learn he had multiple tumours. He went from running his own bedroom refurbishment business, to being a full-time patient overnight.
Allan explains “My consultant told me my treatment plan would mean chemotherapy to reduce the size of the tumours, followed by surgery. I wasn’t familiar with cancer treatments of course and didn’t expect the intense side effects of chemotherapy which left me bedridden most days. Even watching television wasn’t possible, I was just too sick. This went on for 13 months, leaving me feeling hopeless. I couldn't continue living in this state, I felt lost and physically weak, with little support or guidance for the future.”
Seeking alternative treatment
Allan continues “I was introduced to a friend who had experienced the same type of cancer as me and was offered alternative treatment to only chemotherapy. I knew I needed to seek a second opinion. My wife and I went to see a consultant in Guildford who couldn’t believe I hadn’t been given the option of surgery before, finally I had a path with hope and a solution at the end."
Surgery and MRIdian radiotherapy
After surgery, Allan’s surgeon explained there was still some cancer in his liver and another operation wasn’t possible. He recommended Dr. Kasia Owczarczyk, Consultant Oncologist at GenesisCare in London Cromwell Hospital to access advanced, highly targeted radiotherapy called MRIdian radiotherapy.
Dr Kasia said “When Allan came to see me, he had three areas of cancer remaining in his liver. I discussed with Allan MRIdian radiotherapy, this highly targeted technique reduces the treatment margins and allowed me to accurately develop a plan to target Allan’s tumours. Without the complex functionality of the MRIdian the risk of damage to the remaining liver would have been greater. Allan’s CT scan 3 months after treatment confirmed the three lesions were accurately treated, with no remaining cancer. We’ll continue to monitor Allan’s progress with a further scan planned.”
Allan said “When I met Dr Kasia Owczarczyk, I felt safe and knew she was the person to look after me. MRIdian radiotherapy was described as directly targeting my tumours with millimetre accuracy and when I was breathing, the machine would stop and start if my tumour was out of alignment. Within a week I started my treatment. It was only 5 days of radiotherapy on alternative days. We chose to stay in London and I managed a few walks and dinners out, I didn’t really experience any side effects other than feeling tired."
Allan’s treatment has given him long-lasting control of his cancer, he’s enjoyed his first holiday since before his diagnosis and is making plans to keep busy working a couple of days a week.
Paying for treatment
While Allan does not have private medical insurance, he chose to self-pay for his cancer treatments and shares “I feel very fortunate to have been able to choose this path. We’re an average family from South Wales, I’ve worked all my life, and I’ve used savings and borrowed some money to cover my treatment. To me, it’s priceless to have more years with my family. Since my treatment with MRIdian radiotherapy, I’ve been able to go on holiday for the first time since before my diagnosis and plan to get a job for couple of days a week. I want to share my cancer treatment story to hopefully encourage others to look at all the treatment options available.”