"Support for speech and Language"

About: Monklands District General Hospital / Ear, Nose & Throat

(as the patient),

I had a cough for over a year and ignored it. It wasn't a very loud or sore cough but it did seem to be there a lot. I didn't really notice it much, but My wife did, and often asked me to get it checked out, which I ignored. Please don't ignore your partners. They usually see you every day and notice changes. Even if they seem unimportant at the time, get them checked out.

5 months ago, while shaving I noticed a lump on my neck about the size of a grape, which I just put down to swollen glands, perhaps due to some bug going about. After a couple of weeks. I went to my GP and from there things moved very fast. Tests included biopsies, X-rays, CT scans, PET scans and blood tests all confirmed that I had thyroid cancer that had spread to other areas of my neck and shoulder.

Although my particular type of thyroid cancer was slow moving, it was estimated that the cancer had been growing in me for 10 years and was now needing radical surgery, to remove the the thyroid, voice box and affected tissue in the neck and shoulder. This was major surgery that left me with no voice box to talk and breathing though a permenant whole at the front of my neck. It was a massive shock to try and deal with, but ultimately stopping the cancer in its tracks, surviving the surgery and then getting back to as near "normal" as possible was my personal goal.

I had the surgery which was very significant and the recovery just needs to be tackled one hurdle at a time, which can't be rushed. I was back home within a month and 3 months later I had a voice valve fitted (T. E. P valve) to the back of my throat, and two weeks later was given the go ahead to use it with the help of speech therapy.

The Monklands Ward 9 ENT department, has a whole team of dedicated specialists from consultants, doctors, nurses and specialist, staff like the speech and language department who all work very coherently together with the firm focus off getting the patients through some very challenging times. After being discharged, any emergencies are dealt with by the normal A & E, However, the Ward 9 team and support services have a weekly drop in clinic, complimented with a weekly clinic at Wishaw and a specialist treatment room on Ward 9 to deal with any problems that arise from the surgery or equipment used after surgery.

The dedication of the team pre and post operative is just stunning. I am at the younger end of the scale for people with this disease and it's encouraging to see that the older patients who are perhaps not as strong physically and mentally are cared for respectfully and with dignity.

I am recovering very well from the process, with the fantastic ongoing support of the hospital staff, but will continue to be monitored and receive assistance for the foreseeable future.

Lanarkshire has a number of support mechanisms and groups available for patients, and of course their families in place, such as "MacMillan", " Lanarkshire Speakeasy" and " Maggies", and the staff at Ward 9 will be able to give you full details to these. I use the services of all of these mechanisms and they have all helped in different ways.

It is my intention to use my experiance in a positive way to try and help others who find themselves in a similar situation requiring cancer treatment. I found that talking to others, who had been through the process, before I had my surgery helped me prepare for the challenges ahead and would recomend others to do likewise.

Monklands hospital will, if requested, put you in touch with others who can provide this support.

Best Wishes

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Response from Peter McCrossan, Director for Allied Health Professions, Allied Health Professionals, NHS Lanarkshire

picture of Peter McCrossan

Dear Bill 81,

Thank you for taking the time to respond highlighting the care that you received from the team at Monklands Hospital. I'm so glad to hear that you are recovering. I will make sure that your kind words are shared with the speech and language staff concerned.

I'm sure that your intention to use your experience in a positive way to help others going through a similar ordeal will be valued by all concerned..

May take this opportunity to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a peaceful and healthy New Year!

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Response from Pauline Downie, Professional Lead, Speech & Language Therapy Services, NHS Lanarkshire

picture of Pauline Downie

Dear Bill81

On behalf of speech and language therapy, thank you for taking the time to write about your experiences.

I am very glad that, with your wife’s help, you were able to get the treatment you needed from the team at Monklands.

It sounds like your positive attitude, as well as the care and support you have received from staff, has helped you overcome the hurdles on your journey to recovery.

I will personally share your story with the speech and language therapists in the team and I hope that you continue to improve and use your experiences to help others.

Kind Regards

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