Gutsy survivors prove there’s life after cancer

Worcester News: YES, WE CAN: Caterer Marcus Gardiner, trust chief executive Penny Venables, specialist nurse Lizzy Pearce, recovered cancer patient Gill Gardiner and surgeon Martin Wadley. YES, WE CAN: Caterer Marcus Gardiner, trust chief executive Penny Venables, specialist nurse Lizzy Pearce, recovered cancer patient Gill Gardiner and surgeon Martin Wadley.

FAMILIES and friends of brave cancer survivors got together to celebrate the gift of health at Christmas time.

The GUTSY support group was set up in January by Worcestershire Acute Hospitals Trust to bring together patients and families recovering from cancer of the oesophagus and stomach.

The disease affects about 200 people in Worcestershire every year.

The group has grown to offer support to more than 40 people, many of whom attended a special Christmas party at Ombersley memorial Hall, near Worcester.

Surgeon Martin Wadley, who had operated on many of the people in the room, was the special guest, along with chief executive of the acute trust, Penny Venables. Staff waited on tables while the group enjoyed a meal provided by Marcus Gardiner, of Clockwork Catering, in Bromwich Road, Worcester, whose mother Gill underwent surgery for oesophageal cancer eight years ago.

Mrs Gardiner said the group is an extremely valuable asset for patients. “I didn’t know anyone else who’d had oesophageal cancer,” she said. “I don’t think it’s very well publicised and it was scary to be diagnosed.

“I went for tests because I was couldn’t keep food down. The GUTSY group allows you to share your experiences, such as how chemotherapy makes food taste bitter.

“When you don't enjoy eating, life becomes difficult.”

Specialist nurse Lizzy Pearce, who organised the event, said: “Seven thousand people each year are diagnosed with this type of cancer, but there is little awareness of the symptoms. As a result, tumours can be advanced and patients are often facing a poor prognosis. “We want to do as much as possible to raise awareness of this type of cancer and to support patients and their families as they undergo treatment.”

People should visit their GP if they have difficulty swallowing, unexplained weight loss, sickness after eating, lasting indigestion or heartburn, or bloating.

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