13 August 2021

Supporting the hospital that saved my parent’s lives

Debbie Wolfe, from Eastleigh, is supporting her local hospital cancer services this September by running the ABP Southampton half marathon.

In April 2019 my mum, Julie, suffered from a heart attack and was brought to University Hospital Southampton by ambulance.

They discovered she had a blocked artery so she was taken to theatre to have a stent put in to open it up and allow for the blood to flow normally again. Thankfully she recovered, but without doubt the team in Southampton saved her life.

Less than one year later she was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

Mum needed a mastectomy on one breast to remove the cancerous cells, but then Covid hit, so all non-urgent surgeries were postponed. A few weeks later, the doctors brought her back in to the hospital to perform day-surgery.

Nurses then visited her at home over the next few weeks to drain and dress the wound.

She was given the all-clear in May 2020, and needs mammograms every two years in the Southampton breast screening unit to check for relapses. She must take drugs daily for the next five years to try and keep the cells at bay, but for now, she is cancer free.

Fast forward nine months…

My dad, Dave, has never had anything wrong with him – ever. In February 2021 he noticed a swelling on the side of his neck, and mum and I kept telling him to have it looked at.

He thought it could be a side effect of the Covid-19 vaccine, but then eventually went to our GP to get checked out.

After a consultation and biopsy tests, he was diagnosed with cancer in March.

They needed to find the primary source for the cancer so he had multiple MRI and PET scans. In mid-June the cancerous cells in his tonsils and a section of the base of his tongue were surgically removed.

Due to his age, he can’t have chemotherapy, but starting in August will begin an intense course of radiotherapy for six weeks.

Personally, I think the hospital and all the staff are just amazing!. The NHS has been so strained over the last 18 months, and to still see the level of care that my parents were given, and everyone working so hard in spite of everything is incredible. Without a doubt, my parents wouldn’t be here without them.

To say thank you, I am running the Southampton half marathon on 5 September. I started running at the start of the first lockdown as I was furloughed for five weeks and it give me something to do.

I found it really hard to start, so was just running a few laps around my local park. After a few weeks I went further from home, and built it up from there!

Now I fit in a couple of 5k runs each week, then a longer run at the weekend. I am so thankful for my health, and am ready for the challenge.

Help transform cancer services in Southampton today.

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