I was healthy and reasonably fit when I suddenly began to suffer with hay fever which I initially thought was the cause of my swallowing difficulties. However, following a consultation with my local pharmacist, tests within the local hospital and an appointment with a consultant, I realised the cause was actually cancer of the Oesophagus.

This blog focuses on my experience as an outpatient within the NHS (which was amazing).

Outpatient

Inevitably, for whatever reason you are referred as an outpatient, it is NHS professionals who deal with the shock and multitude of questions you raise in order to help understand why you are there. Their reassurance, compassion and skilled ability at sharing factual information is key to supporting you on that journey.

From my personal perspective as a patient on a cancer pathway I felt wonderfully supported by all the NHS staff I met. I probably had personal contact with over 50 different staff members who supported me along the pathway from diagnosis to initial treatment. Unfortunately, one or two staff members did not demonstrate the highest standard of care and attention, but I can honestly say that the significant majority were excellent at putting my needs at the centre of everything that they did.

On reflection I think that we (my wife and I) could have taken better advantage of the support options provided to us. At the time, we thought we could manage on our own, which in the main we did, however, there were moments where an independent voice would have been helpful. On reflection, I realised I was becoming a patient and should have let go sooner of trying to engage on a professional to professional level.

I was fortunate that my chemotherapy mix worked well at combating the tumour. The news was given in an outpatient clinic by an extremely professional and personable doctor. Her demeanour highlighted how genuinely pleased she was for me. Which was both encouraging and uplifting as I prepared and headed for surgery. The team had worked wonderfully well to get me to this place and now it was time for me to continue doing my part, build up my stamina, get fit and ready for the next challenge, my oesophagectomy.

 

John Powell MBE
End of Life Care Lead