A cancer survivor from Clacton is appealing to her local community to be aware of the signs and symptoms of lung cancer, following her diagnosis 8 years ago.
Jackie, 70 of Legerton Road, Clacton is teaming up with the Essex County Council Public Health team to raise awareness of lung cancer and to show local Jaywick residents that with early detection a cancer diagnosis can have a positive outcome.
In late 2016 Cancer UK released data to Green Elms Medical Centre in Jaywick which showed that the Jaywick area had a considerably higher rate of suspected lung cancer than England as a whole.
This meant that Green Elms Medical Centre had four more cases of suspected lung cancer per 1,000 compared to the England average.
Staff at the medical centre were also concerned that patients were presenting late for lung cancer, meaning that they were not being diagnosed until their cancer was advanced where the treatment options are limited and survival rate is lower.
In response, the Essex County Council Public Health Team has teamed up with the medical centre and local cancer survivors like Jackie, to launch the ‘Know the Signs’ campaign in Jaywick today.
The campaign aims to educate local people on the signs and symptoms of lung cancer and encourage them to see their GP if they believe they have any of the key symptoms which include:
- Having a cough most of the time (And more than 3 weeks)
- A change in a cough you have had for a long time
- Being short of breath
- Coughing up phlegm with signs of blood in it
- An ache or pain in the chest or shoulder
- Loss of appetite
- Losing weight
Mike Gogarty, Director of Wellbeing, Public Health and Communities said: “This campaign aims to show the positive side of early detection and that if you are diagnosed at an early stage like Jackie was, that the chance of survival is much greater.
It is hoped that this more positive approach will encourage those that may be too worried or frightened, to come forward and book an appointment with their GP.”
Jackie has now been cancer free for 3 years and believes that this, in part, is down to the fact that her cancer was detected early and at a stage where surgery and consequent treatment stopped it from spreading.
“I was diagnosed with lung cancer 8 years ago and it all started with pneumonia. After the pneumonia I wasn’t getting any better, I still had a cough, was losing weight rapidly and felt very lethargic and just not myself.
I went back to the GP who sent me for an X-ray which showed a tumour on my lung and I was diagnosed with lung cancer.
“It wasn’t long after diagnosis that I had surgery to remove the tumour and while in surgery they found another tumour behind it so they removed that too.”
“Following the surgery it took a long time to recover and I was taking daily tablets and was going back for x-rays every 6 months. I now go yearly for an x-ray and have been cancer free for 3 years.”
Jackie added: “I’m working with the Public Health team to share my story to help others and get cancer diagnosed early.
I am a very positive person and tried to keep positive throughout, and I consider myself lucky that the cancer was found at an early stage otherwise I may not be here now.
I want to show others that even if you are diagnosed with lung cancer there are lots of survivors out there, just like me.
“So I would urge anyone, if you have got any signs or symptoms, have got a persistent cough, or you are losing weight or feeling lethargic, just go round and check with your GP, it might be that you only need some cough mixture or it could be that you have got cancer, but either way, the quicker you go to your GP the quicker you can get it sorted.”
More information on the ‘Know the Signs’ campaign visit: essex.gov.uk/Health-Social-Care/Health/Pages/Know-the-signs.aspx and follow #jaywickKTS on twitter.