My wonderful mother, Barbara Francis was aged 78 when she was diagnosed with Bowel Cancer in the lower part of the rectum. Whilst the Consultants and medical professionals in South Wales have been wonderful in their treatment of my mother, it is England and in particularly the services of Professor Sun Myint at Clatterbridge Oncology Hospital in Liverpool who myself and my family have to thank for saving my mother from the indignity of a permanent colostomy bag the only treatment available to her for treatment of the cancer available in South Wales.
Our journey started back in late 2007 when she had the diagnosis and it was confirmed that her only hope was a lifesaving operation which would leave her with a permanent colostomy bag. Knowing my mother’s love of living independently and being able to walk every day and socialising with the latte culture in Caerphilly where we live, my mother and we as a family were horrified that this was the only option available to us.
Whilst drinking a café latte herself in MacDonalds of all places, my wife was reading the Health pages in the Daily Mail when she came across a case story of a young man in his early thirties who had been diagnosed with rectal cancer which on the face of it appeared to be similar to the diagnosis her mother in law had received. She read the story animated that this new treatment which was at the time only available in France and Liverpool. Clutching at straws as we all do in these circumstances and with the power of positive thought, we researched further and found details of something called Papillon treatment. The treatment whilst invasive and unpleasant (but not has unpleasant as a colostomy) seemed to infer the use of some sort of magic wand that could delivery radiotherapy treatment directly to the site of the tumour (up the bum).
Armed with this information, we hot footed it to see my mother’s GP to see if there was the remotest of chances that my mum could get referred for this radical new treatment in Liverpool. Unfortunately, my mum’s GP obviously not wanting to get my mum’s hopes up actually criticised the internet for offering fantastic cures which were not what they seemed to be. Un deterred by this, I was able to obtain the email address of Professor Sun Myint and sent him details of my mother’s cancer asking him if he believed her to be suitable for this treatment and how could we get to see him either privately or on the NHS. To my surprise he responded on the same day asking for us to get my mother referred to him for investigation and possible ‘Papillon’ therapy. Thankfully I managed to persuade my mother’s oncologist at Velindre Hospital in Cardiff to refer my mother for treatment with Professor Myint at Clatterbridge in Liverpool. Following chemotherapy and radiotherapy at Velindre to shrink the tumour, we decided against the surgery on offer to my mother at the Vale of Glamorgan but to take the risk of going for it and trying this radical new treatment. We as a family believed we had nothing to lose but everything to gain and so commenced our regular health tourist trip to Liverpool.
After some six or so sessions with Professor Myint and many trips up and down the M5, M6 to Liverpool we were delighted to find that after an agonising wait of a few months for the treatment to do its worst, the tumour actually shrivelled up and fell away like a scab. How unbelievable was that. We felt that we had won the Lottery, in fact it was better!
I am still amazed and in awe of this wonderful man (Professor Myint) who successfully treated my mother and got rid of her T3/T4 tumour with his magic wand. I am pleased to say that some five years later with regular biopsies of the area treated at our local hospital in Cardiff and investigations in Clatterbridge my mother is still in remission and cancer free, and at almost 83 years of age still able to wander around Caerphilly every day enjoying her quality of life with her family and friends, living independently and free of a colostomy bag.
We the entire Francis family are indebted to Professor Myint for bringing his wonderful machine to England and for pioneering its use in the face of some adversity from the health establishment. We would have travelled to the ends of this earth to help my mother and thankfully this treatment was available to her, she is indeed one of the lucky ones!