“If You Feel Or See Anything Strange In Your Body Don’t Hesitate To Get Checked Out, Listen To Your Instincts.”

4th July 2023
Jock McGowan

Important advice from Jock McGowan, who was recently diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called a Sarcoma.

A Sarcoma is a cancer that can affect any part of the body, on the inside or outside, including the muscle, bone, tendons, blood vessels and fatty tissues. It is a rare cancer with only 15 people being diagnosed daily in the UK. There are around 100 different subtypes of Sarcoma, but the two main types are soft tissue and bone.

Jock worked for the Red Cross for 38 years as a First Aid Trainer and Assessor for communities across Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Isle of Man. He is very familiar with medical treatments and admitted with most things he is happy to treat himself, however he instinctively knew when he felt a niggle in his arm and noticed a small lump, that he needed to get advice from his GP. Jock was prescribed antibiotics to treat a possible boil or cyst, but after four weeks of treatment with antibiotics, it was agreed that Jock required an ultrasound scan to determine what was causing the issue.

Jock explained, “I knew there was something wrong after I had the ultrasound, as the nurse called for the Consultant to check the results, a biopsy was taken before I left the hospital and less than a week later, I was diagnosed as having a Sarcoma.

“I was shocked, as I did not expect to hear the word cancer, but I gathered my thoughts and asked the Consultant about my treatment options and how I could beat this. I required CT and MRI scans to determine the specific area of the cancer and to help decide if I should have radiotherapy before or after an operation to remove the mass. It was concluded that radiotherapy before the operation was the best course of action, so I started a six week period of radiotherapy sessions, 25 in total, to stop the spread of the cancer before the surgery.

“I arrived at the hospital on the morning of my surgery at 7am and once a few checks were done, I was taken straight down to surgery.   I woke up five and a half hours later covered in drains and drips, but with a great sense of relief and the feeling of a great weight being lifted off my shoulders. The following weeks involved various appointments to change my dressings and antibiotic treatments for an infection, but thankfully I am doing well.

“I am very grateful to have come through all of this so well and I genuinely cannot thank the Sarcoma Nurses and the entire Cancer Team enough for what they have done for me.”

Sarcoma Clinical Nurse Specialists, Gemma Bowman and Jill Kennedy have supported Jock throughout his treatment journey, providing advice, care and encouragement for Jock and his family any time they have needed it.  They added, “Getting to know our patients and their families is such a rewarding part of our job, being that ‘link’ for patients between all the services that they need to access can make their journey feel smoother and less stressful.

“Being able to educate the public and other primary care providers on how to recognise a Sarcoma is so important. This could lead to increasing a patient’s chance of long-term survival and improve their overall experience.”

Signs and symptoms can vary and the list below does not include everything, but if you are experiencing any of these issues it is important to make an appointment to see your GP:

A lump which is growing, changing, or is bigger than the size of a golf ball.
Swelling, tenderness or pain in or around the bone, which may come and go and may be worse at night.
Stomach pain, feeling sick, loss of appetite or feeling full after eating only a small amount of food.
Blood in either your stool or vomit.
To find out more about Sarcoma’s you can visit www.sarcoma.org.uk or www.macmillan.org.uk

You can also email: info@theboomfoundation.co.uk for information on local support services.