Frank, 70, from Pentwyn was diagnosed with a tumour on his spine in March this year and he and wife Babs cannot praise all those who have since been involved in his care highly enough.  Frank served in the Merchant Navy and then worked as a steel erector on industrial buildings and factories, before becoming a driver delivering stores to building sites.  Although he had to retire at 60 because of disability, he had never been seriously ill until March this year.  Frank takes up the story: ’I had started getting terrible pains in my back.  At first I thought I had pulled a muscle, but the pain just wouldn’t let up.  I asked our local pharmacist for the strongest pain-killer he could give me without a prescription and that seemed to do the trick, so I battled on for 3 weeks, but one weekend it came to a head.  I couldn’t get comfortable whatever position I tried and the pain was unbearable so eventually at Babs’ insistence I gave in and we took a taxi to The Heath Hospital and turned up at 11.00pm on the Sunday evening. 

Over the course of the following week in hospital I was diagnosed with prostate cancer which had evidently spread to my spine.  It was the tumour on my spine, which I was told was inoperable, which was causing all the trouble, as the prostate cancer was not showing any symptoms.  By the Friday I had been admitted to Velindre and on Saturday morning I was receiving my first injection of a drug to control my prostate cancer and started the first of 5 radiotherapy sessions to try and shrink the tumour.  Everything moved so fast that week and developed so quickly that it was almost a blur, and as I was being given morphine to control the pain I don’t remember too much of what went on.  What I will never forget however was the care and kindness shown to me by everyone, and knowing that I was in safe, totally professional hands who would do everything they could for me; I really felt that nothing was too much for any of the staff in The Heath or the Velindre Cancer Centre.

When I came home I was referred to City Hospice (at the time still known as George Thomas Hospice Care) and found myself in the care of yet another organisation which could not have shown me greater kindness, compassion and professional care.  We first met Sarah, our City Hospice clinical nurse specialist, when she came with the doctor for the initial visit.  Since then she has become much more than ‘just another nurse’, and is a friend, companion and confidante, with whom we can discuss anything.  She arranged for Katie, the Hospice’s Welfare Rights Officer, to visit. She advised and helped us to get some of the benefits we were entitled to, like ‘Carer’s Allowance’ for my wife, a Blue Badge for car parking, and having extra bannister rails installed on the stairs (it wasn’t until they were fitted that I realised how difficult I’d been finding going up the stairs!).  Sarah has also arranged for me to go to the Hospice Centre in Whitchurch for reflexology sessions, which really help – though don’t ask me to explain how the therapy works!  I know people go on about the problems in the NHS  - well I can honestly say that I couldn’t have had better treatment from every single person I’ve come across if I’d been as rich as Richard Branson!

Of  course I don’t know what the future holds for me;  at the moment with the drugs and my monthly injections I feel pretty good, though I do rely a lot on my wonderful wife Babs’ help and support  - after 46 years of marriage she knows me so well!  With Babs help, and with the support of my excellent GP and staff from Crwys Medical Centre, my local pharmacy, the Velindre Cancer Centre and, of course, City Hospice, life could be whole lot worse!