I am moved to write after reading the article about Julian Materna’s widow.
I agree that GPs should seriously think about referring to hospital anyone with symptoms of breathlessness, immobility, pain, easily bruised skin and swelling.
My mother’s story and experience is uncannily similar to Julian’s and lessons should be learned from these experiences.
Last September mum was on holiday when she noticed more difficulty and pain when walking and breathlessness, just like Julian.
Ordinarily, Mum was very fit at 73, and her hobbies included walking, being a member of The Penistone Line, Yoga and swimming.
She slowly lost the ability to enjoy her pastimes and eventually had to give up driving and lost her independence and could no longer provide care for her older brother.
She went to the doctors on several occa sions only to be told ‘it was arthritis and old age would certainly make the condition worse’.
Like Julian, she was sent home with paracetamol.
Meanwhile, mum was suffering great pain in her bones, and her legs and lymph glands were also very swollen.
The doctor wouldn’t visit her at home so she had to painfully make her way there in a taxi.
The doctor agreed to refer Mum to hospital. Mum had a series of scans. The results a couple of weeks later in April revealed the devastating news. Mum had lung cancer that had spread to her bones.
Mum was immediately referred to Weston Park Hospital who were absolutely wonderful.
Although mum was in a very late stage she was given radiotherapy and bone strengthening treatment which helped ease the pain.
The breathlessness was due to anemia, for which two blood transfusions were given. Best of all mum now had the appropriate medication to kill the pain and could sleep better.
Prompter, and proper diagnosis and appropriate pain relief can make the world of difference to a dying person’s quality of life. Sadly, Mum died peacefully aged 74 in August in a nursing home.
It took from September until April for mum to be heard.
By this point she could barely walk and it was a little too late to enhance her chance of survival.
I would urge anyone with serious concerns about their symptoms to be persistent and not to be fobbed off with an undiagnosed opinion and paracetemol.