Lesley Shand, 56, was diagnosed with nasopharyngeal cancer in October 2012, after going to her GP with concerns about a lump she found in her neck. Nasopharyngeal cancer is a rare form of cancer that affects the part of the throat that connects the back of the nose to the back of the mouth.
A nasendoscopy examination with the head and neck team at the Royal Alexandra Hospital followed, and at this appointment a consultant saw something up Lesley’s nose. Following a biopsy, Lesley was diagnosed. The mother of three underwent three sessions of chemotherapy in November 2012, which involved being admitted to the Beatson for a week at a time, followed by a month of radiotherapy.
“When I was told I had cancer, it felt like my whole world came crashing down. Treatment was tough, especially radiotherapy as I had to wear a mask which was screwed down to a table to keep my head steady. As someone who was claustrophobic, I really struggled, and I lost weight as I wasn’t able to eat.
“I still go for checkups and even seven years on, I worry about it coming back. Once you’ve been through cancer, I don’t think you ever fully think everything is okay, and there’s been side effects to the treatment such as my hearing being affected, and nerve damage causing pins and needles down the left side of my face.
“But I’m still here, and I’m so thankful my cancer was found when it was. If I hadn’t gone to see my GP, or that doctor hadn’t examined my nose with that camera, I don’t know where I would have been now.
“Yes, it’s been difficult, but I’ve become a grandmother in the last year to Charlie and even just talking about him puts a smile on my face. I don’t even know how to describe the love I have for him.
“If you have a concern, go and get it checked. I always say to people to put their trust in the professionals and don’t go near google. There’s lots of cancers that can be cured now, and you’re giving yourself the best chance by seeing someone straight away, rather than waiting and worrying.”