Monday 18 March 2019

'I was lucky cancer had not spread to my stomach' - granddad (68) who was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer

Seán Lennon with his grandchildren Devlyn, Tillie and Chloe Lennon
Seán Lennon with his grandchildren Devlyn, Tillie and Chloe Lennon

Seán Lennon (68), a retired electrical contractor, is a father of four and has three grandchildren.

"In July 2010 I noticed that I had difficulty swallowing and food just wasn't going down properly," he says.

"I'd had a hernia, caused by acid reflux, a few years previously and wondered if it had anything to do with that so I made an appointment with my GP and visited him around early September. He referred me to the Ulster Hospital to have a dye test later that month and, in November, I was called for an endoscopy."

"My consultant saw from the photos that my gullet was yellow and had bile in it, and that the inside lining of my stomach was inflamed.

"I was given an oesophageal cancer diagnosis and was told that it hadn't continued into my stomach, which was a relief."

After Christmas 2010 Seán, from Co Down, had three months of chemotherapy to prepare for an operation on April 12, 2011.

"They made an incision from my belly button round my ribcage and deflated my right lung to get the tumour out, and then brought my stomach up a few inches to rejoin the tube.

"I was in hospital for two weeks and then took the best part of five months to recover at home.

"I was reviewed after three months and they were happy with my progress."

Now, Seán has recovered and he has never looked back.

"I still go back once a year for a check-up. I feel that I received excellent treatment and would really praise all the hospital staff for the way I was looked after.

"There have been changes to my life as I still have a weakness in my right side. I can't eat large amounts any more so I just have small portions and eat little and often, following a high protein diet.

"This experience has made me appreciate day to day life in a way that I didn't before, and I appreciate each day sent to me and time spent with my wife, children and grandchildren.

"Although my cancer diagnosis was a big shock I feel fortunate that it hadn't spread into my stomach, so I know I did the right thing by acting quickly when I noticed changes in my swallowing, and would encourage others to do the same.

"I'm so pleased that money is being invested in research in this area to help people who are affected by oesophageal cancer."

Belfast Telegraph

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