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August 10, 2020

Stories from Big C: Deb and Diana’s story

Deb and Diana's Story

In 2019, Deb Shome was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma after it was discovered that a lump on his face was cancerous.

Deb and his wife Diana both began to visit our NNUH and Great Yarmouth Centres during and after Deb’s treatments. During lockdown, Deb and Diana have continued to access our services over the phone and online.

This is their story…

Last year, Deb Shome noticed an unusual lump on his cheek, so he went to his GP who referred to a specialist at the NNUH. At first, the consultant believed the lump was a cyst.

However, after a biopsy of the lump and several other scans, it was confirmed that Deb had developed Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (NHL), a form of blood cancer which develops in the lymphatic system, a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body that maintain fluid balance and fights infection.

Lymphomas can start anywhere in the body where lymph tissue is found, and the results of his scans also showed that a second mass had developed in Deb’s chest.

In late 2019, Deb received radiotherapy treatment for the mass on his face. The treatment was successful. However, due to the location of the second lump being close to several major organs, Deb has not received treatment for this yet. Currently, he is on ‘wait and watch’ (also known as ‘active surveillance’ or ‘watchful waiting’) and has regular appointments with his consultant at the NNUH. This is because some people with blood cancer do not need treatment straight away, whilst some never need treatment. ‘Watch and wait’ is a way of monitoring the cancer with regular check-ups and blood tests.

Before lockdown, Deb and Diana visited our Big C Centres at the NNUH and Great Yarmouth. When Deb was having treatment, they would pop in to have a chat and a cuppa. Deb joined the Men’s Support Group, and both Deb and Diana participated in our Relaxation sessions.

Deb said: “During one of my visits to the hospital, our consultant recommended we go to the Big C Centre. Ever since our first visit, Diana and I would pop in regularly whenever I was having treatment for a cuppa and a chat with the Support Team. The support you receive is just wonderful. Whether you have a medical or nonmedical question, there is always someone there who is willing to help you find an answer.”

Immmunosuppression (weaken immune system) is a common side effect of NHL and therefore during lockdown, it was vital that Deb’s practiced self-isolation and shielding. Fortunately, throughout lockdown, Deb and Diana’s daughter helped them with grocery shopping and other errands. They also have continued receiving support from Big C.

Diana said: “We were both sad to hear that the Centres had to temporarily close. However, the support has still been wonderful. We’ve had a few parcels dropped off at our home from Big C – which was such a lovely surprise. They included things such as toilet roll and hand sanitiser, but also biscuits, a book and more.”

Deb added: “We also have been receiving regular calls from the Support team, just to check in to see how we are both doing. It reminds you that you are not alone, and that Big C is here to help.”

Both Deb and Diana have begun to attend online support group meetings. Deb has participated in the virtual Men’s Group meetings and Diana attended the first online Carers Support Group meeting.

Deb said: “Although many of the men in the group have been diagnosed with prostate cancer, I still find the group really helpful. It is interesting to hear about other people’s experiences and the meetings online are a nice way to meet, especially as it gives us the opportunity to discuss the current situation and how everyone is doing.”

Diana said: “I had a bit of technical difficulties at first, but once these were resolved it was nice to be part of the meeting. It was good to meet other people looking after a parent or spouse with cancer and to have members of the Big C team there to offer advice and support.”

Due to the current situation, Deb has been unable to attend his regular appointments at the hospital in person, but has had regular calls with his oncology team at the NNUH.

Deb added: “The Big C has been a great help to us both during lockdown, but also the time before. It’s wonderful to know such an organisation exists, and I hope others with cancer will reach out for help.”

As their television had broken down at the start of lockdown, Deb and Diana read books and followed what was happening with coronavirus on the radio. They got a lot pleasure watching and feeding the birds in their garden and even gave pet names to many of their regular bird visitors.

Big C is still here if you need support. Our services are available for those diagnosed with cancer and those close to them, with many of these services now available over the phone and online. For more information, call us at 0800 092 7640 (free to call Monday to Friday 9am-5pm) or visit support.big-c.co.uk

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