Phil Davis, Christie patient
Phil had been experiencing 18 months of ill health, which he and his doctor first put down to a flare up of Crohn’s disease. But after things didn’t improve, his local hospital referred him to a specialist centre for more tests in early 2019.
Sadly, the further tests found that Phil had a large tumour that had originally started in the wall of the rectum and had broken out into surrounding tissues. The tumour encompassed the bladder and prostate and was resting a few millimetres from his pubic bone.
Phil was told that he needed radical radiochemotherapy and eventually a total pelvic clearance. However, due to the size of the tumour, Phil’s consultant told him the treatment would be very complex.
As he was dealing with such a surprise and difficult diagnosis, Phil went to his GP to seek a referral for a second opinion. Phil’s GP recommended Mr Malcolm Wilson at The Christie. Mr Wilson works within 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.
Within a week of being referred, Phil had his first consultation with Mr Wilson and his team. Mr Wilson confirmed the diagnosis of a T4 mucinous adenocarcinoma and put together a treatment plan.
“Given the nature of the treatment plan, I was initially very hesitant as at the age of 33, recently married and working as a self-employed personal trainer, the resulting treatment would mean a dramatic change to my life.
“Appreciative of my circumstances, Mr Wilson’s team arranged another consultation a few days after my initial one to go through, step by step, the treatment plan and what I would expect. Put at ease by his professionalism, knowledge and direct approach, I decided to follow his protocol and start the initial stage of the treatment.”
Phil’s treatment plan was a loop colostomy followed by 6 weeks of radical radiochemotherapy. That stage of the treatment went well, and Phil went back to work a week after his colostomy. Phil worked through his radiochemotherapy right up until week 6, when he took a week off due to some discomfort.
After the radiochemotherapy finished, Phil had to wait 10 weeks for the full effect of the treatment to take place. Phil and his wife Clare went on holiday to Majorca and Turkey, and he then settled back into work. As the treatment had gone so well, Phil was hoping that the tumour had gone, and his life could return to normal.
But unfortunately, when Phil went to see Mr Wilson in July to get his scan results, the tumour was still the same size and was resting only a few millimetres from his pubic bone.
“After trying to negotiate another 6-month ‘wait and see’ approach, Mr Wilson told me in no uncertain terms the importance of me having the pelvic clearance sooner rather than later. After some deliberation and a telling off from my wife, I dropped my stubborn mule approach which I had held onto since treatment started and agreed to have the procedure. Unbeknown to me at the time, it would be the best decision I ever made.”
Phil’s total pelvic clearance was booked for few weeks later, in September 2019. His surgery lasted over 9 hours and he woke up to find the operation was a success. Phil then spent the next 10 days in hospital, the 1st day in HDU and the other 9 on the ward.
The day after his operation, the physio team came to meet Phil. They got him up out of bed to try standing. Each day, they came back and eventually Phil was able to walk around unaided. By day 8, Phil managed to walk off the ward and to the M&S café at The Christie.
Phil says that all the staff on the ward were fantastic and so attentive – he says this made the 10 days easy to manage. He found the recovery and restricted movement draining. However, he says the one plus was that he had already had a stoma, so it was much easier to deal with the other one. Phil says that agreeing to having the colostomy done at the start of the treatment was such a good idea.
After day 10, Phil was able to go home. Over the next 4 weeks, he continued to get better. 5 weeks after the operation, Phil went back to see Mr Wilson for some tests which all came back normal – the operation had been a success.
“I am now 4 years on from the operation and leading a very normal life, still doing everything I used to, however with some slight modifications. Understandably, there have been several obstacles I’ve had to overcome since my op, and I’ve had my fair share of “accidents” and a few setbacks but it’s all contrary to what I thought in those initial days of my diagnosis.
“I am very thankful to Mr Wilson and all his team, particularly Rebecca Halstead, who helped me through a very tough time. Without their knowledge and ability, I simply wouldn’t be here, to which I am forever grateful.”
To find out more about colorectal and peritoneal oncology treatment at The Christie, please see our About CPOC page for further information.