Leonard Devoir, 58, from Hackney was diagnosed with lung cancer in March 2010. At the time he was working long shifts of 12 hours a day as a road sweeper. “It had been a snowy winter and of course I was out all day in the cold,” he says. “I got sick, but I just thought I had flu. I was coughing, but I was a smoker so that wasn’t so unusual”.
One night, however, Leonard woke at 2am with terrible chest pains and his wife told him he had to get to a doctor. “I dragged myself to the GP and he sent me to A&E straight-away,” he says.
Leonard had pneumonia and pleurisy, but a chest x-ray also showed a tumour on his right lung. After a further scan at the Homerton Hospital where he’d been admitted, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. Leonard had surgery to remove the tumour at Barts Hospital. The cancer was spotted early and he did not require any further treatment.
Leonard has not smoked a cigarette since the day he was diagnosed and is grateful for the extra time his early diagnosis has given him with his wife, children, grandchildren and beloved Staffordshire cross dog, Bonnie. “I wouldn’t say I’m a lucky person in general,” he says. “But the day I went to the GP that time saved my life. If they hadn’t spotted the cancer early, it would have been a lot worse.”
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.