Anna Selo, 71, lung cancer patient

Anna Selo, 71, lung cancer patient

In April this year, while the UK was during full lockdown restrictions due to COVID-19, I completed intensive chemotherapy and radiotherapy at The Royal Marsden. I had been diagnosed with stage 3 lung cancer at the beginning of the year after a debilitating cold and cough. When the wheezing persisted, I got it investigated. The shock of the diagnosis was so enormous. Even during such uncertainties, I always felt completely safe coming to The Royal Marsden for treatment.

As soon as I arrived at the hospital, I felt guided, protected and cocooned by all the staff. After my first radiotherapy session, I mentioned that my fears could be calmed by listening to the jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. On the next day, and right until the end of my radiotherapy treatment, they played my favourite Ella songs. I became the perfect patient: I didn’t twitch or move a muscle. Where else would you get such royal treatment?

As funny as it sounds, I felt rather sad finishing treatment because of the comfort and feeling of safety I get in the hospital. I started my treatment very gingerly, but today I feel stronger thanks to the team at The Royal Marsden. Their knowledge, empathy and guidance have alleviated my fears and I now feel equipped for the future. I was told by a doctor that 10 years ago, my prospects wouldn’t have been so good. But a decade on, and thanks to advances in research and new treatments, here I am bouncing back.

I am now determined to live to 100 to receive my telegram from the Queen. The whole army of staff at The Royal Marsden deserve the highest accolade for their dedicated work, particularly during the fiendishly difficult time of coronavirus that has blighted our lives.

You won’t be surprised to hear that every Thursday at 8pm, my family and would be out in our front gardens for the national Clap for Carers. I’d bring along my frying pan and bang as loudly as I could, reserving the loudest bangs to honour all who work at The Royal Marsden for saving my life.

"Anna was diagnosed at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, so had to deal with that in addition to her lung cancer diagnosis and treatment. It was an extremely anxious time for her. Following discussions with her GP and our psychological support teams, and with the support of our nurses and radiographers, we were able to take Anna through the full course of radical chemoradiation in a COVID-safe environment.

It really was a multidisciplinary team approach, requiring constant communication with Anna, but she handled it exceptionally well. She has had an excellent response to treatment and remains psychologically strong. It has been a pleasure to treat her." - Dr Merina Ahmed, Consultant Clinical Oncologist