“I’m so pleased I went for a lung health check. I would never have known otherwise,”
Sheila Benson says as she thinks back to her cancer diagnosis. In November 2018, Sheila received a letter in the post inviting her to take part in the Leeds Lung Health Check, a pioneering screening programme funded by Yorkshire Cancer Research.
The 67-year-old was one of the first people to book an appointment on the programme’s mobile unit when it launched at the White Rose Shopping Centre, just a few miles from her home in Beeston. “You can always find better things to do, but I thought I would go just to double-check,” Sheila, a retired personal assistant, explained.
“There were lots of staff on the van and everything was really efficient.” Sheila had quit smoking 20 years ago, but she says that her smoking history remained in the back of her mind as she underwent a lung function test and a special type of x-ray called a screening CT scan that can detect very early signs of lung disease.
Later in November, she received an invitation to attend an appointment at St James’s University Hospital. Sheila’s two daughters accompanied her to the appointment and were with her when she received the news she had lung cancer.
Sheila said: “They started to do the scans and then found cancer in my kidney too. I was pretty scared, but my oncologist was ever so good. He explained that it was operable.
The kidney cancer was a different type of cancer to the lung - so I was doubly lucky that it had been caught in time to operate.” Sheila required urgent surgery to remove her right kidney, which happened in January. In March, surgeons removed part of her lung.
“I was only in hospital for two days for the kidney operation and three days for the lung one. I was very impressed by it all. Everything moved so quickly,” Sheila said. “It took a little while to recover. It was a while before I could lift anything or do very much, but in both instances I didn’t feel as bad as I thought I would.
“When cancer happens to you, you just take it in your stride. I’ve had so much support from the hospital and from my family. I don’t think I’ve once shed a tear.” Sheila has noticed some more long-term effects from her lung surgery, such as feeling more breathless and less fit than she did before.
However, she quickly returned to her daily activities following surgery, including gardening and spending time with her grandchildren. Sheila said: “I had a hip operation last year but before that I belonged to a walking club, and my aim now is to get back to walking regularly. I’m also keen to start a Zumba class.”
Sheila has received the all-clear following her operations, but she will go for regular scans to ensure the cancer hasn’t returned. She said: “When it comes to cancer you think you’re invincible, but you’re not at all. I owe so much to that initial appointment. I’m absolutely amazed that there were no symptoms at all. I would say to other people to think of the consequences of not getting checked out.”
About Yorkshire Cancer Research
• Yorkshire Cancer Research was founded in 1925 and is the largest independent regional cancer charity in England (Registered Charity 516898). We are not part of a national charity.
• Current statistics show that 594 people are diagnosed with cancer in Yorkshire every week.
• Our mission is for 2,000 more people to survive cancer every year in Yorkshire.
• There are lots of cancer problems across the region that need to be tackled on a local level. We work in partnership with researchers, clinicians, the NHS, public health bodies and other charities to fund innovative work in four key areas: prevention, early diagnosis, treatment and clinical trials.
• For more information, please visit www.yorkshirecancerresearch.org.uk or follow us on Facebook or Twitter.
Nikki Brady, Senior PR Officer, Yorkshire Cancer Research. Tel: 01423 877228. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org