With the East and North Hertfordshire Hospitals’ Charity marking Men’s Health Week, we have spoken to a 40-year-old patient at Stevenage’s Lister Hospital who underwent lifesaving robotic surgery four months ago and is now cancer-free – as he is urges anyone with concerns to “contact your doctor straight away”.
Duncan McLean was diagnosed with bladder cancer in August last year, with surgery for kidney stones revealing a series of tumours after blood was found in his urine.
The father-of-four from Stevenage subsequently had two operations to have 27 tumours removed, and BCG immunotherapy treatment to reduce the growth of any new ones.
On 1 May this year he was due to undergo a further operation, which involved having his bladder removed and a new one reconstructed using the small intestine – all through robotic surgery.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic Mr McLean had to have his surgery postponed, but it went ahead five weeks later on 12 June.
Having been able to leave hospital 10 days later, Mr McLean wants to tell his story to encourage others to seek help.
He said: “The whole experience was fantastic. I can’t sing the praises of my surgeon Mr Nikhil Vasdev enough – that man saved my life.
“With the dedication that he exhibits himself, you can see why he expects so much from his team – he takes professionalism to a whole new level. He would come in at the weekend to see me and I felt like number one, his top priority – and he was like that with all his patients.
“But it’s not just him, the whole team are amazing. The care hasn’t stopped since leaving hospital either – it continues even now.”
This month the NHS relaunched its Help Us Help You campaign, encouraging the public to get checked if you think you might have cancer and to attend routine appointments.
Asked what his message would be to those who have concerns, Mr McLean – who turned 40 a month after leaving hospital – said: “If you have any concerns, contact your doctor straight away. Don’t take a chance.
“If I didn’t go my situation could have been a lot of worse – it might have been terminal. I know many men don’t like to go to the doctor and COVID-19 may make things scarier for everyone, but it is so important to get checked out.”
Urologist surgeon Mr Vasdev – who is also the associate medical director for cancer services at East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, which runs Lister Hospital – said: “We are proud to be able to carry out cutting-edge robotic surgery which, as it is less invasive, enables our patients to recover more quickly.
“Seeing Mr McLean return home cancer-free is why we do the job that we do, and highlights why it is so important for anyone who has concerns about their health to contact their GP or the NHS 111 service to seek advice.
“The NHS is open for business, and we are here to help.”
Anyone with concerns should book an appointment with your GP by visiting your doctor’s surgery website or giving your surgery a call.
You can also visit 111.nhs.uk or call NHS 111 for free from a landline or mobile phone – advisors will ensure you are directed to the right place so you get the help you need.