Pauline, Chris's wife, shares his story
He started to have pain in his left leg during the summer of 2005 which gave him symptoms of sciaitica. After several visits to the doctors and eventually an X ray he was taken into Hospital for various scans and tests.
He was then sent to Stanmore as the X Ray had revealed something sinister on his femur and the local hospital said they see less than 1 of these cases per year. Following an MRI scan and bone biopsy he was eventually diagnosed with osteosarcoma in May 2006. At the age of 59 the surgeon said it was very rare for a man of his age and said he should have 3 cycles of chemotherapy followed by a leg salvage operation and then a further 3 cycles of chemo.
He started his chemo at Univerity College Hospital London which he coped with very well, although he did lose all his hair so we bought him a red curly wig which he wore in Stanmore Hospital on his birthday which was celebrated there following his limb salvage operation. He was determined to walk as soon as possible and did just that, during more than the recommended exercises until he was extremely mobile. He had 2 hospital stays during his chemo caused by infections (one was C Diff caused by his own body attacking itself) but being a very strong person overcame them and life was good again, although he could not do all the things he used to.
In 2007 he had a local recurrence in the soft tissue near the original tumour and underwent a further operation to remove that, which left his leg weaker due to loss of muscle. This was followed by 30 sessions of Radiotherapy which left his leg sore and slightly stiff, but once again he exercised as advised and walked as much as possible.
All seemed well until the following May in 2008 when the CT chest scan revealed 2 nodules in one lung and 4 in the other. When he was scanned again in September they had grown and a new treatment called Radio Frequency Ablation was offered as an alternative to surgery. He had 4 different treatments and finished in January 2009. His left leg had started to give him problems again and he had to use 2 crutches to walk. After further scans and a Biopsy it revealed that the cancer had returned and that there was extensive damage to his tibia. The only option was amputation as the leg could no longer be salvaged. This was done on 17th March at Stanmore, the amputation above the knee. He made good progress and managed his mobility using a wheel chair remarkably well. He also had further scans on his left shoulder which was becoming painful, and was not surprised when the results again showed that the cancer had returned there and that an operation was not an option. He had 10 sessions of Palliative Radiotherapy to ease the pain. A small legion also showed in his spine but this did not give him any problems.
He went for physio at the local hospital and leaned to walk with his new prosthetic leg very well as we all knew he would and was determined to live life as best he could, joining the disabled bowlers association.
In October 2009 the CT chest scan revealed that the lung metastases and shoulder tumour had grown considerably but still he managed to walk and get on with life. A few days later it all changed when he was admitted to the local hospital to have his right lung drained as he started to have breathing difficulties. When he came out 8 days later he never really got back to the same level of health he had before and he was re admitted on 26th November once again with breathing difficulties.
His condition deteriorated quite rapidly and he died very peacefully on 7th December with hardly any pain.
He had been so incredibly brave and determined to beat his illness and never gave up fighting. His sense of humour was remarkable and when his leg was amputated in Stanmore he wore a black eye patch and blow up parrot as he went up and down the ward in his wheelchair, much to the delight of the nurses. His sense of humour has kept us all going.
He has had the very best of treatment from both Stanmore Orthopaedic Hospital and UCHL in London, the staff there are amazing and I can't thank them enough for all their care and support. We miss him very much but are all so proud of how his managed his illness.