Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Tony Grover, 61, Norfolk, retired police officer

If people see my scar when I wear shorts, then so be it, it’s part of who I am now.”

“For a while, I just thought I was getting fat as my trousers were getting too tight. In hindsight I should have realised that my trousers were only getting tight on the top of my right leg. Anyway, I ignored this until after a bath one day when I spotted sight of myself in the mirror. I could see what I thought was a lump in my groin. I asked my wife to come and take a look, at first she just laughed and told me she wasn’t in the mood! I told her I was being serious and I thought there might be something wrong. When she saw it, she thought it might be a hernia and said I should go see a doctor.

“I went to see my GP and was referred immediately to my local hospital in Norwich. Within three weeks of that referral I was given a diagnosis of sarcoma. It turned out that the lump was the size of a large aubergine. No wonder my trousers were getting tight! It was decided that it should be removed but not before a course of radiotherapy shrink it, to give the surgery the best chance of success.

“Removing the lump also caused some other residual damage to my leg. Because of where the lump was lying, part of my femoral nerve had to be sacrificed as well as several muscles and lymph glands in the area. I still have no feeling in the area of the surgery. I also have lymphedema for which I wear the stocking to help with fluid circulation. The whole situation could have been worse, of course, but I have my leg and I can walk – I just can’t run anymore. All my scans for the last five years have shown that there has been no recurrence of the sarcoma. I know I am one of the lucky ones.

“My wife actually found the whole process more difficult than I did. We have been married for 40 years – I was just 19 when I knew she was the one. She fussed over me constantly during my diagnosis, treatment and recovery. She still does, bless her. Hopefully I supported her as much as she supported me.

“I was once asked the question, “Why do you think that your scar is your friend?” The answer to that is because, in my case, it is a symbol of success. It’s there because it’s from where they got the ‘nasty’ out. Patients must not be worried about scars – they are part of your life experience and remind you of the value of life. If people see my scar when I am wearing shorts then so be it, it’s part of who I am now. The picture only shows the half of the scar that would normally be seen. It carries on for another four inches across my groin and to the lower part of my torso.

“The future is what you make it. I hope that all the great groundbreaking research will help to raise the survival rates of those suffering with cancer of any kind, but specifically with this rare sarcoma. When we searched online for ‘sarcoma’, I realised there is so much misinformation out there – which is why the work of Sarcoma UK is so important.”

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