A fashion designer and sewing consultant from Glossop who has recently been diagnosed with lung cancer at Tameside Hospital is helping to raise awareness of the disease during Lung Cancer Awareness Month.
In February, Dawn Rezazadeh began to feel unwell, but as far as she was concerned she was suffering from just another winter chest infection that would not budge.
But after her GP sent her to Tameside Hospital with a suspected partially-collapsed lung, the 79-year-old grandmother was dealt the devastating news that she was suffering from lung cancer – a diagnosis made all the more shocking because Dawn has never smoked.
Dawn said: “It seemed like a disaster because I felt extremely well before it happened – it was the chest infection that made me feel tired and short of breath. It takes some time to get over that kind of shock. I think because you are not well at the time you are told that you are so busy dealing with what is wrong that you put it on a shelf for a while but you have to take it on eventually.”
She added: “One has to try to face the future. That won’t be easy but you have to somehow keep up your interests as far as you can and keep up with all the things you used to do so you still feel a whole person.
“You have to be proactive and keep a sensible attitude. People have got to look at it as another problem of life which they have got to take seriously but work towards an optimistic goal. Many people go into self-denial but it will only get worse if you don’t seek help.”
Dawn has had to make changes to her lifestyle after her diagnosis and said: “I do have to rest a bit because one is a bit tired physically and emotionally.
“The most important thing is to keep yourself as well as possible. When you are not well it can be easy to slip into not eating properly or exercising enough.
“I’ve been encouraged to exercise so I walk a little distance regularly and I think that has helped me.
“It changes the way you eat. One of the side effects of the treatment is it takes away your appetite and it makes it more difficult to swallow. What I have been doing is to eat sensible food, to make sure I have enough protein and carbohydrates in each meal. I like to keep my weight level - plus or minus 2lbs.”
Dawn is optimistic about her prognosis and added: “I really feel the medical staff are on the right track. I am being looked after so well at Tameside Hospital so I’ve got a real chance of making a good recovery.
“With the support of my family I am keeping as well as I can be.”
Carol Diver, Macmillan Lung Specialist Nurse at Tameside Hospital, said: “At Tameside Hospital we have a dedicated team of expert clinicians who investigate patients suspected of having lung cancer.
“Diagnosing lung cancer can be technically challenging but the team focuses on trying to make the diagnosis as soon as possible so that those patients who have lung cancer can start their treatment quickly.
“Patients who are diagnosed with early disease do much better and so it is important to seek advice from a doctor as soon as new symptoms appear.”
Lung cancer is the commonly diagnosed cancer in the world. In the UK lung cancer is the second most-frequently occurring cancer among men, accounting for one in seven new cases, and accounts for around one fifth (21 per cent) of all cancer deaths in women. There are 41,500 new cases each year; however, numbers have dropped by around 16 per cent in the last decade.
The main signs and symptoms of lung cancer are:
▪ A cough that doesn’t go away after two or three weeks;
▪ Worsening or change to long standing cough;
▪ Repeated chest infections;
▪ Coughing up blood;
▪ Unexplained persistent breathlessness;
▪ Unexplained persistent tiredness;
▪ Unexplained persistent weight loss;
▪ Persistent chest and/or shoulder pain.