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4th Jul, 2022

Cancer survivor determined to help NHS staff

Malvern Editorial 6th Nov, 2014 Updated: 20th Oct, 2016

A MAN who was once told he may only have a few weeks to live said he is now determined to help the NHS staff who saved is life.

Just last week David Wood addressed 100 nurses on the first day of their careers to tell them how he overcame an extremely rare form of cancer thanks to life-saving treatment and care.

Three years ago the 64-year-old from Rothwell Road in Malvern Wells was told his chances of survival were little to none.

His journey began in August 2011 when he was hitting the ball ‘peculiarly’ while enjoying a round at Worcestershire Golf Course.

Following rigorous testing at Worcestershire Royal Hospital David was diagnosed with an extremely rare and aggressive form of non-Hodgkin lymphoma which had spread to his brain fluid and was affecting his central nervous system.

He was immediately put on a strong chemotherapy regime but was told if it failed he would only have about four weeks to live, but doctors also said the chances of surviving the treatment were less than five per cent.

“My first reaction was how can I tell my wife and children, I didn’t even think about myself,” David said. “But I was determined I was going to fight it and I was going to win.”

What followed was an ‘endless blur of unpleasantness’ as he underwent chemotherapy which rendered him extremely vulnerable to infections.

“Everything had just collapsed,” he said. “From being fit and healthy and playing golf I was reduced to someone who was pretty incapable.”

But remarkably the treatment was effective and doctors put David forward for a stem cell transplant at Birmingham Heartlands Hospital – a process which cleans the blood by producing new bone marrow.

“Basically it is like killing you to bring you back to life again, I felt like death warmed up.” he said.

However the treatment did not go smoothly and it took a total of 12 hours over two sessions for cells to be ‘harvested’ from his body in order to produce new ones. It also involved intensive chemotherapy which ‘you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy’.

He added: “That was the real point of mortality, if it didn’t work nothing else would save me. My life was literally on a knife edge.”

But the stem cell transplant did work and within weeks he began to regain his strength and soon after he was declared in complete remission about a year after his ordeal began.

“It was one of the happiest days of my life, it was the point my past ended and my future began.” David said.

Now, one of his main purposes is to make a positive contribution to the NHS.

The first step was to display his story at the Laurel 3 ward in the Worcestershire Royal to remind patients and staff of what was possible.

But David felt compelled to do more and he is now a patient representative for the South Worcestershire Clinical Commissioning Group.

He said: “I just want to express my thanks to the NHS by sharing my success story with patients and staff.

“They get so much criticism but when things really matter the staff do a fantastic job.”

He added: “I look good on the outside but inside by body is knackered and I will never be free of doctors and hospitals. But I am alive with a future rather than dead without one and I feel such a debt of gratitude to all the staff who helped me.”

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