My name is Linda. I am 60 years old and am married with 2 grown-up children. Following a routine Hysterectomy in 2002, I was informed that the uterine fibroid removed during my operation contained a rare malignant tumour; a Uterine Leiomyosarcoma. Thankfully the tumour was completely removed during the operation. Six weeks radiotherapy followed my surgery and I then began on the road to recovery.
Unfortunately in 2007, I was informed that my cancer had returned. This time it had returned near to my kidney. I had been telling my Consultant for several months that I didn’t feel well, so by the time the tumour was found it had grown very large. I underwent further surgery in August 2007. Due to the location of the tumour, my kidney had died, therefore, necessitating removal of it during the surgery.
Again, I was given the “all clear” but unbelievably in February 2008 I was told my cancer had returned for a third time! This time the cancer had returned in 3 places around my bowel and the blood vessels that supplied it. Due to the location of my tumours, my surgeon told me that he was unable to remove them and I was offered chemotherapy. Seven months of gruelling chemotherapy followed but unfortunately my tumours only shrunk slightly. I was then given the devastating news that my cancer was now terminal.
In August 2008, I read a newspaper article about Alan Bowley and how he had received CyberKnife treatment for an inoperable tumour. Immediately I contacted Alan and Janet Bowley, who directed me to the CyberKnife support website. The doctor on the American website advised me to contact CyberKnife centres in Europe. I e-mailed several CyberKnife centres, of which, Madrid were the first to reply. Janet had forwarded onto me the contact details of another lady who had had a positive experience at the CyberKnife centre in Madrid, so I felt optimistic about the treatment Spain would hopefully be able to offer me.
The doctor in Spain requested I send my recent CT scans to him, which I duly did. I was soon on my way for a consultation with him. The doctor in Spain suggested I had the fiducial markers put in that day. Although they had difficulty getting them in the right place, it was eventually successful. I then returned home to the UK.
I returned to Spain a week later to have the planning CT scan and then to commence the CyberKnife treatment following the scan.
Following the scan I was informed by the doctor that I would need 5 consecutive days of CyberKnife treatment, instead of the 3 treatments that I had initially been told. The downside of this was that we had booked our flights home for a certain date, so we had quite a stressful time rearranging our travel plans.
I was also told that each treatment session would now be 3-5 hours as opposed to the 90 minutes I was expecting.
However, despite the change in my treatment plan, I continued with the proposed CyberKnife treatment. My actual CyberKnife sessions, for some reason, lasted between 6-8 hours. This was very difficult as I had to lie still for so long without being able to eat or drink. The one main negative part of my care that I received in Spain was the language barrier. The hospital staff that took care of me during my treatment did not speak English, so there were unable to tell me why my treatment sessions were taking so long.
In hindsight now, I can say that I did find my CyberKnife treatment both difficult and stressful. I didn’t feel 100% physically, due to my previous chemotherapy treatment before I arrived in Spain, which didn’t help with how I coped with the treatment. Although the staff at the CyberKnife clinic in Spain were very helpful and friendly I found the language barrier very difficult; things did seem to get lost in translation!
Since my return from Spain, I have felt reasonably well, with only some mild post CyberKnife side effects, such as irritable bowel-type symptoms and diarrhoea. The side effects have not been as bad as what they were following the conventional radiotherapy I had.
Although I would not describe my CyberKnife experience as a positive one compared to others I have spoken to, I certainly don’t regret having the treatment. I have not yet had a follow-up CT scan since my CyberKnife treatment; I have decided to wait until I reach the 6 month mark.
My Consultant knew nothing about CyberKnife before my treatment; I think he has read up on it since!