For Jane Malone, 52, who lives in Stepney, an irritating cough turned out to be a life-saver. Jane was working in Sainsbury’s in the winter of 2009 when she caught a nasty cold that left her with a persistent cough. Everyone in the store was ill and she didn’t think too much of it. But when it wouldn’t go away even after a sunny holiday in Goa, Jane went to the GP. “The cough was driving me mad,” she says, “but I also noticed that my joints were aching and I was getting very sensitive to touch.” The GP sent Jane to Mile End Hospital for a chest x-ray which showed a lump the size of a small orange on the right lung. She was diagnosed with lung cancer.
In June 2010 Jane started her treatment, which involved surgery at The London Chest Hospital, followed by a 12 week course of chemotherapy on the lymph nodes at Barts Hospital. The chemotherapy was precautionary – Jane’s consultant was confident that the cancer hadn’t spread. Jane gave up smoking before the surgery and is now fit and well. She says of the experience, “It was just ten minutes of my day, that first trip to the GP, but it saved my life. Only the other day I was out with my daughter Hayley and grand-children Charlie, 10 and Teddy, 3. I might not be doing that if I hadn’t gone to the GP when that awful cough wouldn’t go away”.
If you have had a cough for more than three weeks, you need to see your GP now, even if you think it’s just a smoker’s cough.
It could be something serious such as cancer. Spotting it early could save your life.