An Edinburgh woman shocked to discover she had lung cancer following an x ray after a bad fall has urged people to be aware of the possible signs and symptoms – and get them checked.
Jenny Campbell, 71, was unaware that a persistent wheeze she’d had for around six months was anything serious, until she went to her GP practice concerned she had a cracked rib, after falling whilst camping.
The GP sent Jenny for an x-ray and shortly after she received the news she had a tumour in her lung.
Jenny said: “I’d developed a slight wheeze which had been there for about six months. I now know it was a symptom of lung cancer, but I get hay fever, and suffer from various allergies, so I didn’t think anything of it. I had no pain prior to the fall either, so it was entirely fortuitous that I tripped getting out of my tent.
“It was a terrible shock. I don’t think the reality of my diagnosis actually sank in at all. I knew I had to do certain things, like the tests that led up to my treatment, and looking back I really just viewed it as something I had to get through.”
Following keyhole surgery to remove the tumour in December 2018, Jenny underwent three months of chemotherapy in February 2019, and was then recommended for an immunotherapy trial, undergoing 12 sessions which finished in May 2020. She is now monitored every six months, and is gradually building back her strength.
Jenny said: “My overriding feeling in the past three years has been one of intense fatigue, it feels like the time since my diagnosis has passed in a blur.
“Although tired, I tried to remain positive throughout my treatment and was very determined to survive. I wanted to do the immunotherapy trial as it was explained to me that the drug used had been shown to be very effective on those with later stage cancers, but hadn’t been trialled as extensively on those in my situation, with earlier lung cancer. I felt it was in my interests to have the treatment as I’d have done anything to make sure the cancer didn’t come back.“
“I feel really lucky because if I hadn’t been diagnosed then, and in that way, god knows what would have happened, I may not be here. Although it’s been a really tough three years, it has given me the chance to live longer. I feel frustrated that I can’t be the person I was, but I had cancer, and I’m still here, and I do feel very fortunate, particularly that my cancer hadn’t spread.
“My experience with the NHS has been very positive. To have been given the chance of the immunotherapy treatment and to be continually checked by a wonderful team of specialists, I have to say I feel looked after.
“Although I didn’t realise my wheeze was anything at the time, it disappeared after the tumour was removed so it’s pretty much certain that was a symptom. I’d say to anyone concerned about possible new or unusual symptoms to get them checked, as there’s lots that can be done for lung cancer if it’s found early.”