First patient to receive cutting edge radiotherapy
Jennifer, is one of the first patients to receive radiotherapy from our pioneering new CyberKnife machine at The Royal Marsden in Sutton, the only one of its kind in South London.
Following a period of remission from bowel cancer, Jennifer started suffering with headaches and nausea earlier this year and a visit to her local A&E in May concluded that her cancer had come back and travelled to her brain. She was referred to The Royal Marsden following her neurosurgery to remove the tumour and has since received radiotherapy treatment in Sutton on the new CyberKnife.
Funded by The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity, this pioneering piece of equipment can deliver radiation to patients with pinpoint accuracy in as little as 15 minutes, meaning less healthy tissue is damaged during treatment and fewer treatment sessions are needed.
“I had bowel cancer two years ago and more recently I started suffering with headaches, dizziness and nausea. I ended up in A&E in June and following a number of scans and tests, they told me that they’d found a mass on my brain, which had been causing all these problems and I was in neurosurgery a few days later to have this removed.
“The first time round I wasn’t expecting a cancer diagnosis and I wasn’t prepared to hear this news the second time round either! I couldn’t have my husband with me in A&E due to the visitor restrictions in hospitals at the moment, so it was particularly difficult to be told that my cancer had come back when I was on my own. It’s a difficult situation for everyone.
“I’d been cancer free for over a year and was happily just getting on with my life, so this news was definitely a shock. When I spoke with my oncologist, he said that neurosurgery would be the best first step and then he would refer me over to one of the doctors at The Royal Marsden for radiotherapy treatment rather than having any chemotherapy. I was prescribed three sessions of CyberKnife treatment to target and get rid of any remaining cancer cells and give me a better chance of it not returning.”
Coming to The Royal Marsden – having CyberKnife treatment
“I felt at ease coming to The Royal Marsden and was really pleased we could go to Sutton for my treatment. We were able to drive to Sutton and my husband waited for me outside whilst I went in and had my treatment.
“The private care team at The Royal Marsden were incredibly welcoming and explained everything really well, so I knew what to expect. The hospital itself is so comfortable and a nice place to be, everyone has been so friendly. Even though my husband couldn’t come inside, it’s such a lovely little location that he was able to find a nice green space to sit outside and wait for me. The treatment sessions were quick and everything felt like it ran really smoothly. I had three sessions over three consecutive days and each treatment session lasted around 20 minutes.
"Regarding the sessions themselves, the team asked what music I would prefer to listen to and although the treatment wasn't too noisy it really helped to have music. The room was also set up with relaxing imagery on the ceiling so there is definitely a lot of thought which has gone into making patients feel relaxed and at ease.
“The treatment sessions were so much shorter than when I had pelvic radiotherapy previously – this went on for five weeks and I experienced far more short and long term side effects. To be able to have such focused sessions over three days at The Royal Marsden on the CyberKnife has made a huge difference. Each day I feel a little bit stronger.
“The Royal Marsden is a lovely place to be, everyone has been so helpful and friendly, from the staff managing the machine on the day to my oncologist. Having a mass in your brain makes you feel really anxious about everything but everyone I’ve spoken to has really put me at ease, the team are so knowledgeable.
“Now it’s a case of being monitored and I will be having regular scans to check on the mass that was removed to ensure there is no reoccurrence.
“Everything has been done with my oncologist at The Royal Marsden over the phone - having these virtual consultations has meant I didn’t need to travel up to the hospital until I needed to come in for my treatment.
“I work in a Marketing team for a holiday company, so it’s been a tough year all round from a work and health perspective! I’m looking forward to getting back to work and spending time with my husband Joseph.”