Claudia was first diagnosed with vaginal/rectal cancer in October 2020. After 2 cycles of chemotherapy and one cycle of radiotherapy, Claudia was told her cancer was in remission at the end of August 2021.
Just under a year later, a routine MRI found that Claudia had cancer again. This time, she needed a very serious and significant surgery. Her hospital had a long-waiting time, as it was not a cancer-only hospital and had other surgeries and emergency cases.
Claudia felt that time wasn’t on her side, so she decided to ask for a second opinion at 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.
“I found confidence in knowing that The Christie is not only one of the top cancer centres in the country but has also the advantage of catering for every aspect of cancer care under one roof, cutting waiting times enormously.
“From the first call Professor Renehan gave me, I decided this was where I was going to have the surgery. He is professional, competent, in fact one of the top colorectal specialists. And while he did not make promises nor did he try to paint the picture any brighter, he had a human touch which made me feel more hopeful and confident.”
Claudia says she wants to thank the whole team who looked after her at The Christie, before, during and after her surgery. This was everyone from her specialist nurse, Lisa Wardlow, to the multidisciplinary surgery teams, including from gynaecology, Mr Smith and his team; from colorectal, Professor Renehan and his team; from plastic surgery, Mr Kosutic and his team, the dressing clinic nurses and the receptionist, and the amazing nurses on who looked after her after surgery and on the ward.
Although Claudia says she would never wish her experience on anybody, she said The Christie is the place to go for a cancer diagnosis. She says her treatment hasn’t been easy, as she had a very serious diagnosis and struggled with the recovery post-surgery. But says the thought of putting herself in such competent and caring hands made it all easier.
From the start of treatment at The Christie, Claudia says she’s always felt a sense of urgency. All her appointments were made quickly, and feedback was fast. And if she couldn’t find the right person, there was always somebody else to talk to who would pass the message onto the right people.
Claudia says that all the doctors, nurses, therapists, and domestic staff at The Christie genuinely care for patients, and they made her difficult journey more bearable with their professionalism and human touch.
When Claudia first understood what her surgery would entail (total abdominal hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophrectomy) and posterior vaginectomy, with complex reconstructive surgery), she had a really hard time digesting the news, and the consequences of what that would mean for her body for the rest of her life.
Claudia says her experience has not been easy, but she felt like she was in the best possible place in the circumstances. She said she never felt alone – the advice and support she got came from people with a lot of relevant professional experience, but they also made her feel like a human being and not just a patient.
“The Christie also supports patients with practical logistics challenges, I for one could not sit down for a month and so they organized ambulances to take me to and from the hospital for my weekly dressing appointments and other visits."