Call for package to support recovery for cancer survivors

PUBLISHED: 11:42 23 July 2013 | UPDATED: 18:04 23 July 2013

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A CANCER survivor has spoken out following the release of a report, which claims the NHS has underestimated the severity of long-term health conditions caused by the disease.

The Cured – but at what cost? report, which looks at the long-term consequences of cancer and its treatment, shows cancer survivors have an increased risk of other serious conditions.

It has prompted cancer charity Macmillan to call for action.

Stevenage resident Michael Watson-Usher, who was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2008 and underwent surgery, suffered from a number of ailments since his diagnosis.

He talked to the Comet in a bid to get other patients to speak up.

The 68-year-old said: “As the surgery involved removing about a third of my pancreas and stomach, my bile duct, gallbladder and a section of intestine, I have been left with quite a few consequences of my treatment.

“After my initial surgery I had a hernia that required further hospital treatment. I was also extremely fatigued for a long time and in the early days found it difficult to even get up in the morning and do simple things like take a shower.

“One of the biggest consequences for me is that the removal of part of my pancreas means I am at risk of developing diabetes. I have to be very careful with my diet now to try and prevent that.”

The report also highlights the mental impact the disease has on people, as well as sexual difficulties and chronic fatigue.

“As well as physical consequences, the treatment hit me hard emotionally,” said Mr Watson-Usher.

“I felt like I was in a permanent state of limbo because with every ache and pain I wondered if the cancer was back.

“I found it very useful to keep a journal of my experiences and write down everything that happened. Being open and speaking to family and friends about my cancer has also helped me to deal with the consequences of my treatment.”

Carol Fenton, regional general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Too many cancer survivors are suffering in silence. If they do speak up, doctors and nurses need to be confident in discussing such problems, so consultations are helpful – otherwise it is a poor use of precious NHS resources.

“For far too long the NHS has underestimated the severity of this issue and is woefully unprepared to help cancer survivors now and in the future.

“We are urging them to ensure that all cancer patients receive a cancer recovery package at the end of their treatment offering ongoing support. No one should be left to face the long-term consequences of cancer alone.”

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