Our research is being carried out every day by surgeons in hospitals all over the country.
It’s a special feeling when people who’ve had lifesaving treatment from one of them decide to donate to our charity, and help continue this crucial work.
Their stories bring home the meaning of what we do in a way that nothing else can.
Recently, we heard from John, who received treatment from Mr Dale Vimalachandran in Chester earlier this year. Dale is currently leading BDRF-funded work to develop reliable genetic tests for bowel cancer – potentially making personalised chemo and radiotherapy treatment a reality. When John mentioned that he wanted to make a donation to a charity of Dale’s choice, Dale immediately thought of BDRF. So John wrote to us to explain what the care he received meant to him, and why he wanted to support Dale’s ongoing research:
“During the summer of 2018, I noticed some blood in my stools. At the time, I was not particularly alarmed and assumed that it was a troublesome haemorrhoid. However, the problem occurred sporadically over a few weeks, so I decided to see my GP in case it was more serious. As a result of her examination, she referred me to the Countess of Chester Hospital (COCH) for a colonoscopy and a CT scan. The colonoscopy revealed the presence of a tumour in my upper colon; the subsequent biopsy revealed it to be malignant.
I first met the surgeon, who was to perform my operation, twelve days later. At this meeting, he told me of the problem and explained in detail the course of action he would take, which was to remove the part of my bowel containing the tumour. He said that he liked to give people time to let the news sink in before signing the consent form and asked me to bring my wife along to this second meeting.
While in pre-op, he came to check how I was feeling about the operation and asked for my wife’s phone number so that he could tell her the outcome of the operation, which he did. During my five days on the ward, he visited me twice daily to check my progress, which was very reassuring. The operation had been a complete success and the path results showed no spread to the lymph nodes or any further infection. Having been home a couple of days I was constipated and rather anxious so returned to the hospital. Although it was late in the day, as soon as he heard I was there, he came along to the SAU and took over the consultation, also bringing his registrar who had assisted in the operation.
I am happy to say that, when I saw him again three weeks later, having had the clips removed from my impressive vertical scar, I was told that everything was healing well and that I could start to introduce “normal” foods into my diet. The cancer was a Type 2, which means that it was caught in its early stages. I do the two-yearly self-tests and this year is an “in-between” year, so, although not a catch-all, the self-tests are a good indicator. This meant that when I (eventually) noticed something unusual, the chances were that whatever it was, was in its early stage. From seeing my GP to having the operation was exactly seven weeks.
What I have described could be the account of any successful operation but the whole experience was made so much less worrying by my surgeon’s manner, which was exceptional. Calm, reassuring, genuinely caring and taking a real interest in me as a person – not to mention his surgical skills. I could not have been in better hands than with him and his team. When I told him that I wanted to make a donation to a charity of his choice, he immediately mentioned the Bowel Disease Research Foundation, which has funded his ongoing research.”
It’s largely thanks to research that early diagnosis and treatment today is as good as it is, and through the dedicated efforts of people like Dale and the support of people like John we’ll make outcomes even better and save many more lives from bowel disease.
As Mr Vimalachandran puts it – “researchers are immensely grateful for such support, particularly from their own patients. Donations to BDRF allow continued efforts to improve the management of patients with bowel diseases”.
We know there is a lot more work to do, and that’s why donations like John’s mean so much.
Thank you John – and thank you Mr Vimalachandran.