Great-grandmother walks the walk for doctors who saved her life

Julie had half a lung removed due to cancer, but she won’t let that stop her from going the extra mile to thank the team who have cared for her.

Going the extra mile for Guy’s come rain or shine

This year great-grandmother Julie, from Newbury in Berkshire, is challenging herself to walk 70 miles. The distance has a special meaning to the 72-year-old: it is the distance between her home and Guy’s Hospital, where she had two operations to remove tumours from her lungs last year.

To give her the best chance of remaining cancer free, doctors had to remove half of Julie’s left lung during the second operation.

“I was told that the best exercise to build up my lung capacity was to start going on short walks,” says Julie. “At the best of times, I need a good reason to walk, so I decided to raise money for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity to motivate myself to go out of the house each day.”

With the help of husband Steve, Julie has gone on her short daily walk every day, rain or shine.

“Since starting my daily walks we’ve had rain, snow, gales and sunshine,” says Julie. “No matter the weather, I get out there and walk.”

The walks are Julie’s way of thanking those who’ve gone above and beyond to help her on every step of her cancer journey from diagnosis, to treatment and beyond.

Julie and Steve renewing their vows in 2019
Julie and Steve renewing their vows in 2019

Supporting cancer patients through the pandemic

Finding out you have cancer during a global pandemic is daunting.

Julie came to Guy’s after noticing shortness of breath when walking. In November 2020 Julie was given the difficult news that she had cancer in both of her lungs.

But thanks to Mr John Pilling, consultant thoracic surgeon at GSTT who provides outpatient clinics at The Royal Berkshire Hospital, Julie felt supported and taken care of in those first gloomy days after her diagnosis.

“Mr Pilling told me that I had three choices: he could do two operations to try and remove the cancer from both lungs, I could have radiotherapy or I could do nothing,” recalls Julie.

“The confidence he gave from the way he spoke and the knowledge he had instantly reassured me. I knew I had to have the operations.”

Just 12 days after her appointment with Mr Pilling, Julie has her first procedure to remove the tumours on her right lung.

“I couldn’t believe that with everything going on with COVID-19 that they would be able to see me so soon,” says Julie.

“Three days before the operation a courier came to deliver me a COVID-19 test, then took it back to make sure I was negative. Thankfully it was negative and just a few days later I had my first operation followed by the second just a month after that.”

“After Mr Pilling did my operation, I had to stay on the Dorcas Ward at Guy’s Hospital. The nurses were absolutely fantastic. Any problem I had, they were more than happy to help,” says Julie.

“Having had so many operations over the years, I’ve stayed in a lot of hospitals and I have to say, even the food on the ward at Guy’s was good.”

All of the cancer on Julie’s lungs was successfully removed by the operations, though Julie will continue to see a doctor at The Royal Berkshire Hospital every three months to check the cancer has not returned.

“It’s fantastic to see Julie getting outside every day for her walks and turning her post-surgery rehabilitation into something so positive,” says Mr John Pilling.

“I’d like to thank her for choosing to raise money for Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity and wish her the best of luck with the rest of her fundraising.”

Giving back to the staff who cared for you or a loved one by fundraising helps push Guy’s and St Thomas’ transformative care forward. Find out how you can get started today.

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