Chris Cheetham, Christie patient
Chris had been experiencing pain in his bowel and signs of blood for a while before he went to the GP about his symptoms. He said it was fear that stopped him going to see the GP earlier.
After having examinations, blood tests and a colonoscopy, Chris’ doctor gave him the devastating news that he had colon cancer. Assuming the worst, Chris said when he got the diagnosis, he stopped making plans for his future.
Chris’ doctor at The Royal Albert Edward Infirmary in Wigan referred him to the Colorectal and Peritoneal Oncology Centre (CPOC) at The Christie. CPOC has an international reputation for treating advanced and early colorectal cancer, appendix tumours, peritoneal tumours, anal cancer and tumours within the pelvis.
At The Christie, Chris received chemotherapy and radiotherapy under the guidance of Dr Claire Arthur (consultant clinical oncologist). After the chemotherapy and radiotherapy, Chris had surgery under the care of Mr Jonathan Wild (consultant colorectal and peritoneal surgeon) and Mr Jeremy Oates (consultant urological surgeon).
Chris said the surgery was a frightening experience for him as he had never had surgery or spent a night in hospital before. However, the professionalism and care of the teams meant he felt at ease and supported, and he knew he was in great hands.
As part of his treatment, Chris needed a full pelvic clearance. This meant he needed a urostomy and colostomy bag for the rest of his life. This was obviously daunting for Chris as it would be life-changing and at first, he didn’t think he would be able to cope. But Chris said he kept reminding himself that the most important thing was that he still had a life – and his family still had him with them.
After several weeks at The Christie, Chris was relieved to go home. His treatment took place during the COVID-19 pandemic meaning no visitors during his hospital stay. This made his stay quite a challenge.
“From day 1, I was fully supported and cared for by everyone at The Christie. The nurses, the stoma team, the physiotherapists, were all amazing – nothing was too much trouble and I felt like the only patient in there, truly amazing.
“Last but not least by any means, Mr Wild and Mr Oates provided me with a level of care that was second to none. They showed compassion, empathy and the support they gave me and my family (they contacted them every step of the way) further confirmed that I was going to be alright, if they had anything to do with it.
“The care certainly didn't stop there. Since the day I arrived home, the knowledge that Lisa Wardlow (specialist nurse) was always a phone call away was a great comfort and so reassuring, the invitation (by Rachel Connolly) to the support groups that followed were also, and continue to be, the supportive 'crutch’ that helps me know, I'm not on my own.
“In summary, words are not enough to express the gratitude my family and I have for the whole Christie team, I will always be indebted to each and every one of them – not all heroes wear capes.”
- Chris Cheetham, Christie patient
To find out more about colorectal and peritoneal oncology treatment at The Christie, please see our About CPOC page for further information.