A.T. was treated by the staff of The Mesothelioma Clinic at The Lister Hospital, London. He lived for 9½ years after treatment.
"It was June 2005 that I was officially diagnosed with mesothelioma and told I could have as little as three months to live. You can imagine how devastated I was, especially when my mother died three days later.
It is purely due to you care, dedication and expertise that I have lived as long and I want to thank you for extending my life way beyond those three months." A.T.
If you have never been ill in your life, bar the odd bout of man ‘flu, suddenly being told that you have a deadly disease is both shocking and disorienting in the extreme. This is what happened to me in May 2013 when I was advised that I had, with near certainty, mesothelioma – a disease I had never heard of previously and wasn’t even able to spell for the first few weeks.
However, I was lucky in many ways, and prominent amongst these was that within 9 days of having first gone to my GP with a mild concern about breathlessness, I had met Loic for the first time. From the moment we met I felt in him a huge confidence. This was partly as a result of his formidable reputation as an innovator and as a surgeon. But more important to me was the confidence he inspired in me. And his boundless optimism. At one of our early bedside chats we discussed living not the fact that I had cancer; at another he talked about coming with me to my daughter’s wedding (she was 10 at that time!).
Within a very few days I had been through both a biopsy, confirming the disease, and then a radical pleurectomy. Surgeons sometimes have the reputation of being remote, but my recollection of him in those days was that he was a consistent and cheerful presence in my life. Always looking in on me in hospital, on at least one occasion with his daughter in tow. It was on these visits that the advice began to flow. Never look on the internet, get your diet into the best possible place (avoid sugar but enjoy red wine, for example) and importantly which oncologist to go to. In large and little ways these greatly enriched my life and undoubtedly gave it the best possible choice.
I do not know whether there is a more skilled surgeon in the world, but still I marvel at his technique. I can only imagine how fiercesomely tricky the operation must have been to perform. But there are little things, when I was not anaesthetised that I remember clearly, for example how once he removed a drain from my lungs with not even the vaguest sensation on my part.
I have now been in remission for a year since the chemotherapy that followed my operation. In that time I have seen him at least quarterly to review the PET scans. These consultations inevitably provoke trepidation in me, but I always look forward to seeing him. For in this time he has become a firm friend to my wife and me. When I was going into the operating theatre for my pleurectomy we joked that if he got me through it we’d go fishing together. We duly did so in May 2014, and it was one the most joyous days of the truly happy year that has just passed. M.M.