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Lung cancer survivor tale of hope

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A lung cancer patient given just three months to live after diagnosis eight years ago is spearheading a campaign to double the rate of survival.

Donald Sutherland, 51, from Cardiff, will address MPs in Parliament at the launch of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition.

The group says early diagnosis and improved standards of care could double survival rates within ten years.

He wants more awareness and research. "Above all, I want to give people with lung cancer hope," he said.

Mr Sutherland was originally diagnosed with a trapped nerve before finding a tumour on his lung was the cause of it.

He said: "I am in a tiny minority. Most people with lung cancer don't live beyond six months."

I had two choices: lay down and die, or just get on with it. I didn't fancy the first option

Donald Sutherland

He was suffering shooting pains in his left arm and went to see his GP twice in six months, on both occasions getting physiotherapy for a trapped nerve.

"It was a correct diagnosis on the face of it. But the nerve was actually trapped by a huge tumour on the outside of my left lung.

"The physio was all rather pointless," he said.

"Once I was finally diagnosed, I was told my condition was terminal and inoperable and was given three months to live.

"I had two choices: lay down and die, or just get on with it. I didn't fancy the first option."

Mr Sutherland has received treatment for tumours on both lungs and surgery to remove secondary tumours from his brain since his initial diagnosis.

Return to normality

He has made every effort not to let it interfere with his life.

He said: "I was determined after the initial shock that my life should be as normal as possible. My wife and I decided that the best way for me to return to normality was to get straight back to work."

Dr Mick Peake, chair of the UK Lung Cancer Coalition, said: "We know if we apply the best standards of care already being demonstrated in some parts of the country, and if we diagnose people early, we can double one-year and five-year lung cancer survival rates by 2015.

"We estimate around 13,000 lives could be saved as a result."

At present, half of all people with lung cancer die within six months of diagnosis.

Professor Stephen Spiro, head of respiratory medicine at University College Hospital, London, said: "For some reason, lung cancer has not received the attention afforded to other major cancers.

"Lung cancer can be cured if we just catch it early enough."

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