A Lincoln lorry driver with incurable lung cancer has called for people to go to their GP at the first sign of symptoms, amid fears that COVID-19 is making people hesitant about doctor trips.
Jim Spurr, a 60-year-old lorry driver from the Lincoln area, was diagnosed with lung cancer two years ago, and had surgery to remove the top third of his lung which contained the tumour.
This was followed by a course of chemotherapy, but in May 2021 he sadly discovered that the cancer had come back, and was incurable.
He is now undergoing immunotherapy treatment to prevent further spreading of the cancer across his body, but surgery is not possible due to the location of the tumour.
He said: “I have good days and bad days, but you’ve got to crack on, I live for each day. I’m a grandad now. My granddaughter, Eleanor, she keeps me going. We’ve just found out my daughter in law is expecting another little one in May, so I’m just hoping I keep going long enough to meet them.”
Tracie Charlton, a Macmillan lung cancer clinical nurse specialist at United Lincolnshire Hospitals NHS Trust, has said that some people may be preventing themselves from an early diagnosis because of concerns around COVID-19.
As well as this, Tracie has also said that coronavirus symptoms are creating confusion for people experiencing persistent coughs, which is also a possible sign of lung cancer.
She said: “We are seeing more people being diagnosed with lung cancer in the advanced stages which means treatment can be less successful. I think some people are still nervous about going to their GP, or into hospital for tests due to COVID-19, which is preventing some people from getting an early diagnosis.
“We want to reassure everyone that COVID safe procedures are in place in hospitals and GP surgeries so please don’t ignore the earlier warning signs. Lung cancer can advance very quickly, so early diagnosis is key. If it is picked up in the early stages, there is a much higher chance of treatment being successful.”
Around 48,500 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK alone each year, making it the third most common cancer in the country.
Jim Spurr said that he was getting out of breath more easily and then coughed up a speck of blood, which prompted him to go to a doctor.
“I must admit I nearly didn’t go to the doctors. It was only because I was up early and was in the house by myself, I thought I may as well go and get checked out. If I hadn’t gone that day, god knows what would have happened. I don’t think I would be here.”
Now Jim is hoping his experience will encourage other people who may have symptoms of cancer to go to their GP.
Symptoms of lung cancer may include a cough or hoarse voice for three weeks or more, a chest infection that doesn’t get better, breathless feelings, coughing up blood or extreme fatigue.
Jim said: “If you are experiencing any symptoms of lung cancer, just go to the doctor straight away. Don’t be a macho man. Don’t leave it a week or two. Swallow your pride and go to the doctor. Because the earlier they catch it, the more likely it is to be treatable. It’s so lucky that I did go that day.”
If you are concerned about cancer, contact your GP or call the Macmillan support line on 0808 8080000, which is open Monday to Sunday, 8am to 8pm.
You can also find more information about the signs and symptoms of all types of cancer on the Macmillan website.