Early detection of cancer helped to save Tom’s life

Lisburn man Tom Hague is urging people not to ignore worrying health symptoms after early detection saved his life when he was diagnosed with cancer eight years ago.

Tuesday, 30th March 2021, 3:19 pm
Tom Hague
Tom Hague

Tom (76) is supporting Northern Ireland charity OG Cancer NI ‘Catch It Early’ awareness campaign, which is stressing the importance of early diagnosis.

“My problems started about eight years ago when I felt as though I had indigestion all the time,” explained Tom, who lives in Lisburn with his wife Pauline.

“While I didn’t have any other symptoms, it was persistent so I decided to go to my doctor.

“He recommended going for a scope test which the consultant did.

“This revealed I had Barrett’s Oesophagus which is an inflammation. He said it was easily treated and I had to take medication for it every morning and night.

“For about a year and a half I had no further problems and everything cleared up but then suddenly I felt as though it was starting to flare up again.

“I went back to see the consultant who decided to do a scope test straight away, even though I wasn’t due to have one for six months.

“The test showed that I had a tumour in my oesophagus.

“It was so distressing and a very anxious time for me and my family. We were worried that the cancer might have spread to other parts of my body.

“Fortunately, the test revealed the tumour had been detected at an early stage, and was confined.

“Afterwards, the first part of my treatment involved nine weeks of chemotherapy. Luckily, I was able to take this in tablet form at home and didn’t have to go into hospital.

“After that I had a nine-week break before surgery to remove the tumour. I describe this as being re-plumbed as they had to remove part of the stomach.

“Three weeks after the operation I was able to go home, followed by another round of chemo when a few months had gone by.”

Tom is certain that the early diagnosis of his tumour was vital in making sure he covered from the illness.

“In my case early diagnosis enabled me to have successful surgery and a complete recovery,” he said.

It is because he made a complete recovery that he wanted to help the charity OG Cancer NI with their awareness campaign. “In terms of the campaign I think it is important because it raises awareness of the symptoms and the importance of catching it early,” he added.

More than 400 people per year were diagnosed with oesophageal and stomach cancer prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and OG Cancer NI, chair, Helen Setterfield, feels it is now more important as ever to make sure that anyone worried seeks help.

“You should not hesitate to make the call if you experience persistent heartburn that doesn’t go away, trouble swallowing, regurgitation or hiccups that do not go away,” she said.

OG Cancer NI was founded in 2018 and provides telephone support to newly diagnosed patients, information stands in the hospital, wellbeing meetings providing peer to peer and professional advice and support.

For further information go to ogcancerni.com, call 07568 157450 or make an appointment to see your local GP