A big public thank you

Dear Editor,

In May 2010, I was diagnosed with cancer of the esophagus. This once rare type of cancer is now on the rise and after the initial shock wore off, my partner Tessa and I began a journey into the unknown.

It started with extensive tests that confirmed the tumour in my lower esophagus, moved onto Radiotherapy in Faro and Chemotherapy in Lisbon, and concluded in December 2010 with a successful operation to remove the tumour.

However, I did lose 20kilos in the process as the tumour made eating an almost impossibility. So far I have had complete clearance and do not see the Oncologist until June 2012. Yes, I am cancer free!

However, the point of this letter is to give a very big – and public – “thank you” to those who played a major part in helping me reach the place I am now:

Dr. Paulo Sousa from Hospital Particular do Algarve, Gambelas, Faro. His initial diagnosis and advice put us on the right road, his support was unstinting and he was always available to answer any questions and allay any fears. He was our guide and advisor at all times.

The Portuguese National Health Service. To us it was faultless in its professionalism, its caring attitude to a frightened foreigner and the attention to detail was excellent. I would like to single out the following for their enormous contribution they made to my treatment, my ongoing well-being – and the fact that I am able to write this letter now:

Dr. Luis Feria from Hospital Egas Moniz in Lisbon – not only was he the Surgeon for what was a complicated operation but he also organised my treatment from an initial consultation in June 2010. His level of care and professionalism was excellent.

My six weeks in the hospital were made so much better by the team of doctors, nurses and ancillary staff.

Dra. Ana Plácido and her staff from the Oncology unit in Hospital São Francisco Xavier in Lisbon whose approach and attitude made the horrors of chemotherapy seem not quite so horrific.

Dr. Oscar Condon and his staff from the Radiotherapy Unit in Faro – my early morning visits were quick and stress free!!

Silvia Nogueira, our partner in Jordans Properties, for keeping the business afloat in our absence and for her total support to Tessa and to me in all personal and business matters – a real rock.

Everyone who offered and gave help, advice and support – not only to me but primarily to Tessa. There are too many here to mention but they know who they are.

The biggest thank you goes to my partner Tessa. She co-ordinated and handled the whole situation brilliantly, working with all the relevant medical teams and taking care of the many logistical and practical problems of sessions in Lisbon and Faro.

For those very long and traumatic months, she ensured I got – and took – the right medication, she took all the stress away from me and got me through what was an enormously draining time, emotionally and mentally as well as physically.

I have absolutely no doubt that she saved my life with her focus and dedication, and I cannot thank her enough. I am eternally grateful that she was there by my side when it mattered, and I am delighted that we can now share the celebrations together.

If you have been diagnosed with cancer and want someone to talk to please contact me on [email protected]


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