Caroline Guy, diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer, was given three to four months to live in 2020.
However, after extensive treatment, including surgery and chemotherapy, Caroline is now cancer-free and has returned to thank the medical team at Nottingham’s hospitals for saving her life.
She expressed immense gratitude to the NHS and the staff for their compassion and care.
Caroline emphasized the importance of their work and shared her hope for the future.
The medical team also expressed their appreciation for her positive outlook and bravery, highlighting the significant impact of her story in offering hope to others facing similar situations.
“What you’ve got here is the best of the best,” she said of NHS staff.
“I felt sluggish, I just didn’t feel right,” recalled Caroline of her first experiences with the illness. “My stomach was swollen – I’d googled my symptoms and I actually asked him outright if I had bowel cancer, and he said no.”
“I was in pain walking, I looked seven months pregnant, and I woke up one night and was violently sick. I just felt horrendous.”
“When I saw their faces I thought this is not good. My daughter couldn’t look at me. I couldn’t take it in. I just said ‘How long have I had it? And ‘am I going to die?’”
“You’re looking at three to four months,” the surgeon told her at the time.
“They didn’t tell me that at the time. He was still picking our daughter up off the floor – they had to give her oxygen. I can laugh now but it must’ve been like something from a Carry On film.”
“It was scary, the thought of coming back to England, worrying would I still get my treatment, because I’d done so well in Saudi, but I had to come back. I had to see my family.”
“I was heartbroken, I didn’t want to hear a timescale, I was doing really well. I continued with the fortnightly chemotherapy and Cituximae. I had a pump fitted and I’d go away and have chemotherapy for 48 hours at home.”
“It’s been a long hard process, but I have never had my treatment stopped. And the staff were absolutely marvellous – they were under tremendous pressure. Nurses that should’ve finished were still there hours after their shift had ended, because they can’t just walk away when machines are bleeping and patients need attention.”
“I said yes please” to surgery. “The only way you can beat bowel cancer is with surgery, to remove the primary cause. I knew that if I did that, the cancer might come back but if it did come back I would deal with it.”
“The surgeon looked at me and said you’ve got no cancer. I said ‘are you sure? I just couldn’t believe it. It’s a miracle.”
“It cost £110,000 for my treatment in Saudi – my husband’s retirement fund – because I didn’t have insurance – I got all my documents through a week after I was diagnosed with cancer.”
“The money it cost for private care – even though it was amazing – it doesn’t touch what I’ve had done here with the NHS, and the NHS gets such a bashing.”
“I’ve been treated with so much compassion. I’m in awe of these people, and the colorectal nurse Kimberley was fantastic.”
“For the surgeons to say ‘we’ve got it all, you’re cancer free’ – how can I thank them? How can I thank the NHS? Some of the staff are like family. The amount of people who have been involved with my care, and they have all been wonderful.”
“I want everyone to know – the people in chemo, the porters, those in Lister, everywhere I’ve been – I need them to know that they are appreciated.
“I’ve got a life, hopefully for quite a few years – and it’s down to you lot.”
Rupert Egginton said, “This is incredible to hear – it’s great for our staff to realise that small acts of kindness really make a difference. If we understand things from a patient’s perspective, that’s where we do our best work.”
“It’s been incredibly motivating to hear your story,” Chair Nick Carver told her. “We need to make sure we share this with the whole team. They’ve gone through a lot of tough stuff, but the performance of some of our people during Covid was just remarkable.”
“It is really important that your story is heard to help take some of the fear away from others who may be in the same situation and may be fearful that they are not going to get their treatment.”
Caroline said, “I’ve met the Crown Prince of Bahrain, I’ve met Professor Stephen Hawkings before he died, and I’ve met David Jason… and I’ve met Alastair and David – and they are part of my VIP list.”
Alastair said, “Caroline had extensive chemotherapy and surgical resection of multiple organs, which is physically demanding but also presents a significant psychological burden and carries the potential for serious complications.”
“Nottingham has an Advanced Cancer Service which is able to coordinate this care and support her through the process.”
“However I must emphasise how important Caroline’s positive outlook and bravery has contributed to the successful outcome in her case.”
“There were a lot of people involved in Caroline’s care, and how well they worked together is really important. It has been a pleasure to be part of the team to manage her from a life-threatening cancer diagnosis into her current state of remission and surveillance.”
“The NHS is an amazing organisation and hearing some positive stories from someone who has had really positive experiences in many areas of the NHS is really great.”
“The last two and a half years has been the strangest time, a time to re-evaluate. It’s made me a stronger person, stronger than I thought I could be, Caroline’s husband Adam said.
“I’ve had dark thoughts, but I’ve always felt the brighter thoughts have overshadowed them. I have a permanent smile on my face.”
“I don’t fear anything any more, because nothing can be as bad as being told you have a cancer that is incurable and terminal.”
“I’m a positive person but of course I had those thoughts, so when a surgeon says they are going to operate – and not with a view to extending your life, but to go in determined to cure you – it means everything – I owe them everything.”
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