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Leslie Ableson:
My fight against lung cancer
 real 28k

Friday, 17 March, 2000, 17:17 GMT
A survivor's story: lung cancer

Smoking probably caused Leslie Ableson's cancer
Lung cancer may be one of the most common cancers in the UK - but it is also one of the hardest to treat.

Cancer: the facts
Leslie Ableson is one of the lucky few - his cancer was caught early enough to make treatment a possibility.

Cancer specialists are optimistic that the numbers of those who will beat the disease in the future will increase as drugs become more advanced.

He tells his story to BBC News Online.

Click here to listen to Professor McVie talk about lung cancer

"I gave up smoking when I was 56 or 57 for social reasons. Then, at 60, I was out of breath, had a pulsating sensation in my throat."

Leslie also found some blood in his spit: "Being in touch with my own body, I immediately went to my GP and had some x-rays taken."

I am living proof that that isn't true, that there is life after cancer - even lung cancer.

Leslie Ableson
A subsequent biopsy revealed the cancer.

"The following day I was rather brutally told that I had no expectancy at all and not to buy any long-playing records.

"Total, utter, complete shock. A total sense of disbelief - you just go totally frozen, the mind refuses to operate, you can't take anything in.

"The next day was acceptance. I came to terms very quickly with it."

Then a stroke of good fortune - the opportunity to take part in a clinical research trial testing out the latest chemotherapy drugs.

Leslie Ableson was fortunate to survive lung cancer
His cancer was localised and hadn't spread beyond the lung.

"It gave me expectation, I really didn't have hope. I was conditioned that once you had lung cancer or any form of cancer you're going to die.

"I am living proof that that isn't true, that there is life after cancer - even lung cancer."

Extensive chemotherapy followed, then strong radiotherapy.

"The chemo was tough, but I was fortunate. I got through the treatment because getting through the treatment was what mattered.

"I kept going because there was nowhere else to go."

As time progressed, it became apparent that Leslie's condition was improving.

He said:"At one stage in my chemo my consultant told me I was a 'star', which evidently is an in-house expression meaning that things are looking up, things are improving."

The treatment carried on throughout the cricket season of that year.

"I was concentrating mainly on the fortunes of Middlesex, who were doing exceptionally well - and not only did I have a successful season in terms of beating cancer, but Middlesex won the county championship!"

He said that any patients offered the chance to take part in a clinical trial should grab the opportunity with both hands.

"In the end, I owe everything to Cancer Research," he said.

'No running'

"My health today is perfect. I'm able to do everything with the exception of running up inclines or running up hills, because there is some lung damage because of the chemo.

"But I can walk 10 miles without any problem at all."

Another change is his attitude to the tobacco companies.

He said: "I have become vehemently anti-smoking - blaming to tobacco companies after they discovered and were fully aware that cigarettes carried health problems and didn't tell the public what they were.

"The tragedy of course it's the young people who are smoking - it looks like we've lost the battle with the young people at the moment."

Leslie Ableson's experiences and clinical advice from experts has been placed on an audio tape or CD available from the Cancer Research Campaign.
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See also:

02 Nov 99 | Health
Lung cancer grows among women
01 Jun 99 | Health
Lung cancer breakthrough
28 Apr 99 | Health
Vitamin poses lung cancer risk
08 Mar 00 | Health
Lung cancer shame exposed
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