Paul was diagnosed with high grade aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma at the start of 2011.
Wednesday 5th March 2014 was the date of my three monthly visit to the Queen Elizabeth in Birmingham. I have become used to these visits to hospital then lunch with the wife after. But this Wednesday it was a little different or it turned out to be a lot different to be fair...
I was diagnosed with high grade aggressive non-Hodgkin lymphoma back at the start of 2011. I had come across a lump under my armpit in the shower one morning and made an appointment to see my doctor straight away. After blood tests and x-rays I was referred to Worcester Royal Hospital for more tests and a biopsy.
At this time I had in my own mind already feared the worst - I had some early results back saying the lump, which two weeks before was the size of a golf ball, was now the size of a grapefruit. I was sent home and about a week or so later I had a letter saying I needed to meet a consultant at Evesham Hospital, where I was told I had cancer - total utter shock beyond belief.
I left the hospital with my wife in such a daze, wondering how on earth I was going to tell my daughters. This was the hardest thing I have ever done to date. I still see their faces and it still upsets me so much to think that they had to be put through this.
I was admitted to Worcester Royal for a second biopsy and to start treatment. The second biopsy showed the lymphoma was slightly different to all the others, so when another variant was found I felt kind of famous in a very odd way. The tumour was measured at the size of a rugby ball.
My consultants started working out my chemo - what and when to have it and this was the start of a very scary yet very important journey in my life - the not knowing about the outcome, no certainty to the rest of my life.
I did spend a lot of 2011 in hospital and throughout the year hit a few complications, some so bad we thought that it might have been ‘it’, but I was put on the stem cell donor list and in no time my hospital found a compatible donor in Germany. This was a massive relief and I felt the weight starting to lift. On 4 January 2012 I had my transplant and although this was a really tough time it is something you have to do in this situation.
I spent a while in the Queen Elizabeth Birmingham - what an amazing place. We’re so lucky to have the NHS. I visited Birmingham regularly for the year after the transplant but on the whole I felt fantastic. I went back to work which I found tiring but it’s a sense of normality in life.
During check-ups normal procedure is to book in, sit and wait, get called in to have bloods and then to wait some more. After that, it's in to see Dr Chaganti, my consultant since December 2011. However, on this latest occasion after chatting for a short while about my medication, he told me that all my levels had gone to 100%. Oh my goodness!! Due to how bad my cancer was (high grade and very aggressive) and the fact it was now two years post-transplant, he could now give me the all clear!
Wow! What a feeling! With smiles so wide my wife and I walked away from the hospital. I do have to go back in six months and then it is once a year. I cannot put into words the amazing feeling I had that day. It has given me a massive boost in life and I feel now I need to change a few things with my lifestyle, change job, lose weight, get fitter and enjoy the rest of my life.