I am not the first politician to sing the praises of the NHS, an institution that is the envy of the world, despite some difficulty over junior doctors’ contracts.
I am now seeing at first-hand how wonderful the service is.
I have been suffering for years from reflux of acid, which has turned into stomach cancer, medical term adenocarcinoma of the stomach. I am starting 12 chemo sessions and when that is finished, I will have a three-week break before going into hospital to have my stomach removed. The things we do to lose weight!
I am under the care of Professor Mike Griffin and his specialist team at the Northern Oesophago Gastric Unit at Newcastle’s RVI. They are superb and they deal with over 600 cases of stomach and oesophageal cancers per year, the highest in the north east of England with Blyth and Ashington having one of the highest rates in males for stomach cancer.
The unit is the largest of its type in Europe and has developed an internationally-recognised expertise, which is good news for me and everyone else in the region.
One of the problems of these cancers is that patients often present late in their clinical course and cannot be offered a chance of cure. For the past 20 years, the team has been working to raise awareness of the disease through their Oesophageal and Stomach Cancer Awareness Campaign, which aims to raise money to fund local research and treatment for stomach and oesophageal cancer patients.
For more information, visit the website at www.oesophagoose.org
To make an online donation, please visit www.justgiving.com/oesophagoose
Although I will be out of the limelight for a bit, my brilliant staff are available to assist my constituents Monday to Thursday, from 9am to 5pm, and Friday, from 9am to 3.30pm.