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Donald Sutherland 13 year survivor and advocate!!


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'The nurses have kept me going'

By Jane Elliott

Health reporter, BBC News

Most cancer patients die six months after diagnosis

When Donald Sutherland was diagnosed with lung cancer, doctors gave him just three months to live.

Thirteen years later Donald, an insurance broker from Cardiff, is still very much alive and campaigning to get more specialist nurses to help people like himself.

"I had excellent care and I am a great believer in a positive outlook."

He has since had treatment for tumours on both lungs and surgery to remove cancer from his brain, where it had spread to.

More specialists needed

He still has one tumour remaining in his left lung, but said it has remained the same size now for six years and he just goes back for regular six monthly checks.

Donald believes his current good state of health is partly due to the high quality nursing care he has received.

They treated you like a patient whereas general staff treated you as a number

Donald Sutherland

"There was one specialist nurse who treated me. She was excellent and was helped by a Macmillan nurse and they carried out all my chemotherapy which is the difficult treatment.

"I think part of the reason I have done so well is the nurses' help.

"They made it more personal because I was with a small unit and there were only a maximum of two of us at a time getting chemotherapy.

"I did get to a stage with the treatment where I told my wife I was not going back because it really knocked me down.

"I did go back, needless to say, because I thought one or t'other of the nurses would have been on the phone otherwise asking me why I was not there and I didn't want to let them down."

Donald said the nurses had been vital helping him through his trickiest times.

"When I came off the chemo they put me on steroids and I had a trip like an LSD drug trip.

"I could not speak. One of nurses phoned me when I was like that and thought I was having a heart attack so she phoned the local GP to get him to the house because she was so worried about me.

"They were really great. They answered questions and were extremely helpful in loads of ways, they took care and treated you like a patient whereas general staff treated you as a number.

"I should not generalise, but these two lassies were absolutely fantastic."

Worrying statistics

More than 38,000 patients are diagnosed each year with lung cancer.

It claims around 14,000 lives of women compared to 12,400 with breast cancer and half of all lung cancer patients die within six months from diagnosis

Yet experts feel there are far too few specialist nurses to deliver the care needed.

Currently, there is an average of one lung cancer nurse for every 132 people diagnosed with the condition, compared to 82 people per every breast cancer nurse.

An X-ray showing lung cancer

Maria Guerin, chairwoman of the National Lung Cancer Forum for Nurses, said the specialists are fundamental.

"To receive a diagnosis of any sort of cancer is shattering, but particularly with lung cancer, which has such a poor prognosis.

"Patients after diagnosis can last on average just six months and they need a lot of information, psychological support and financial support.

"You need the specialist knowledge to know at what stage they need what information.

"They need the right information at the right time."

Dame Gill Oliver, chairwoman of UK Lung Cancer Coalition, agreed more specialists are vital and they have lobbied parliament in a bid to get them.

"There is quite a lot of evidence from patients and carers as to the benefits that specialist nurses provide for people affected by lung cancer.

"We need another 200 specialist nurses across the country to bring specialist nurses up to the level of specialist nurses for other diseases like breast cancer.

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