Around this time, I went to watch a motorcar race and had to walk several miles. The next day my thigh had swollen and was tender. I saw my doctor and was sent for an x-ray which revealed an osteosarcoma of the thigh bone. I was immediately seen by a surgeon who wanted to amputate my leg that day but my mother asked for a second opinion.
I was sent to see Sir Stanford Cade at Westminster Hospital in London - he was experimenting with radio therapy. I was accepted for treatment but I couldn't help feeling the outlook was not good! The machine they use was called a Van de Graph generator and it sounded like a cement mixer. I remember that it was always breaking down and this often meant that I was missing 1 out of three days of my treatment.
After three months of treatment, the tumour appeared to have shrunk and it was decided that was no point in amputating my limb and so I was sent home. I continued to have monthly x-rays to determine if the cancer had spread to my lungs. After six months when there was no sign that the cancer had spread and the decision was then made to amputate my limb. The tumour was half way up my femur so my leg was amputated at the hip joint. At that time, there was no chemotherapy and limb salvaging was not available.
I understand that a book was produced detailing my treatment which is probably still in the Westminster Hospital library. I continued to have regular chest x-rays monthly and then later, every three months.
At the time it was thought that my treatment was a breakthrough and I was sent to attend many seminars as a speaker.
I was told that if I survived 10 years this would be a good sign that I would be ok. Like the 'cold hand of fate' on my 10th anniversary hospital visit a very small lump, about 2mm in diameter, was spotted on my lung. The lump was removed by the same surgeon who operated on King George VI.
As the lump was caught at an early stage, it was just a question of removing a small piece of lung. I continued to have annual check-ups and never failed to attend these. After 58 years from being diagnosed, the hospital decided that I didn't need to attend check-ups anymore. Did this mean that I was cured?
The most important lesson here is to that it's crucial to have regular chest x-ray checks. Something that people might not realise is that I have continued to suffer severe phantom pain occurring at approximately three week intervals. It's as though someone is hammering nails into me at 20 second intervals. There seems to be no cure except pain killers.
I suppose that I have been very lucky to have survived but it has been a struggle.
When I had an artificial limb fitted I found no difficulty to walk which I put this down to the fact that I was young and could have the limbs adjusted to suit me. I have never needed to use a walking stick.
I have always thought of myself as a logical and practical person. I knew that I had cancer but never ever needed to ask the doctors about my illness and what the chances of my survival were. I have always believed in the motto 'bad news can wait till tomorrow'. As it happened the doctors got it wrong. It might seem strange that I never wanted to know but it worked for me.
I remember lying in bed at night dreading the worst and every time I went for a check-up it was an ordeal thinking that this was the time they would say that there was nothing more they could do for me. I suppose as time went by I became less worried but I knew that I wasn't having x-rays every three to six months for no reason!
I often tell people that I have lived longer than thee of my consultants: Sir Stanford Cade (probably the top cancer specialist in the world at that time); Dr Kenneth Newton; and Dr Iain Hanham - he found the lump on my lung (I was very sorry to read of the death). I continued to see Dr Hanham for a number of years at the Charring Cross Hospital and I always thought that seeing me cheered him and his collogues up. Dr Hanham was the kindest and most considerate person I have ever met.
I started my working life as an apprentice carpenter but then I was diagnosed with bone cancer. After several years convalescing, I tried a number of jobs and then changed direction and got a job as an instrument technician in a large electronic company repairing aircraft systems. I worked on most aircraft including VC10s BAC 11s and most military aircraft. The irony is that I got the job without a day's training and no qualifications. These days you would need a HNC in electronics or engineering.
You would think that I'd had enough of cancer but after 25 years of marriage my wife was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus. I managed to get her seen by a top surgeon in Westminster Hospital where she had a major operation but the cancer had spread. She had chemotherapy but very sadly, died within 14 months.