DESPITE his background as a professional actor and magician, there was no intent to be theatrical when Roy Hodges walked into his GP surgery and announced: “Doctor, I think I have cancer.”
Having weighed a constant nine stone ever since he was 16 years old, alarm bells started ringing for Roy, of Upton, when he lost almost a stone in the space of just a few weeks over the Christmas period last year.
Sensing something was amiss, he went to see his GP.
A day later, he had an Xray and soon after he was in the hands of the expert lung cancer team at Worcestershire Royal Hospital.
Within weeks, he underwent surgery at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham, where medics removed about 20 per cent of his lungs. A year on, he is in remission, fighting fit and looking forward to treading the boards as the villainous Captain Hook in next month’s Peter Pan pantomime with his beloved drama troupe the Pepperpot Players at Upton’s Memorial Hall.
But the 69-year-old knows things could have played out totally differently were it not only for the support of the “brilliant” NHS but also his own quick-thinking in spotting something was wrong and getting himself checked.
Lung cancer is a particular problem when it comes to getting people timely treatment, with more than twothirds of patients diagnosed too late. Mr Hodges is urging others to follow his lead and get themselves checked even if they have the slightest worry. He is aiming his message particularly at fellow men, who he believes are generally less aware of their health than their female counterparts.
“Even if they do have a worry, men in particular often don’t do anything and are afraid to have it checked,” he said.
“That is the message I really want to get across; that is what the doctor is there for.
It is about breaking the taboo. Cancer is a nasty, invidious disease but we have to talk about it and the more open it becomes, the more people are going to do about it. The sooner you can get it checked then the better the chances of recovery.”
Although Mr Hodges was quickly home after a short stay in hospital, the support he has received from the expert team at Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust did not end there.
With the support of lung specialist nurse Chris Jordan in particular, he has set about making lifestyle changes now that he has been “given a second chance”.
He has kicked his lifelong smoking habit and is exercising regularly and eating more healthily.
He said: “What has helped me is partly catching it quickly but also always being positive and wanting to get on with it and do something about it.”
Mr Hodges lives alone at his home in Upton after getting divorced more than 10 years ago. He said that played a part in his recovery as he had to get on and do things for himself.
But nurse Chris explained that is how she always wants it to be for all patients as they make their recoveries.
“We want to help get their lives back on track. If you were living alone before then that is normal for you and we want to get you back to that independence, enjoy life and get on with things as much as you possibly can,” she said.
Mr Hodges has not only got back to treading the boards but also working his way through a list of things he wants to do and places he wants to go – including a daring 100mph zipline descent!