Published Wed, 2010-11-03 14:23; updated 4 years ago.
What started out as a skin rash turned into something far more serious for Patricia Stokfisz.
Despite never having had any chest problems, and not suffering a cough for years, Patricia was “absolutely shocked” to discover that she had lung cancer.
The 62-year-old from Birmingham, whose father William died from lung cancer eight years ago, is now urging more people to be aware of the symptoms before it is too late.
Patricia, who worked in a CCTV control centre in Birmingham city centre, said: “I just felt generally unwell and had this severe skin rash on my chest and the side of my face which looked like chicken pox.
“I was under dermatology at the City Hospital in Dudley Road where they were testing my for Lupus because I wasn’t feeling very well.
“I had a biopsy on a lesion taken from my chest, but then the doctor said it might be an idea to have a chest x-ray as well while I was there.
“I don’t know what would have happened if the doctor hadn’t decided to send me for an x-ray. I am very lucky that he did.”
Patricia had no such concerns, or forewarning of what was to come, at the time.
“The rash, everything, had cleared up. As quickly as it came, it went away in a couple of days. It was as if nothing had happened.”
Despite the general improvement in her health, Patricia still had her x-rays.
But she was feeling so much better that she went on holiday as planned.
All that was to change on her return.
She added: “When I came back my answerphone was inundated with phone calls from Dudley Road and there was a big pile of envelopes from the hospital asking why hadn’t I responded to their calls and why I hadn’t attended my appointments.
“You can imagine the shock.”
Patricia immediately arranged to visit the hospital, but was not prepared for what news awaited her.
“They said they were very sorry but I had a shadow on my chest.
“I asked them what did that have to do with my rash and they said that sometimes it can show evidence of a tumour.
“I went to the chest clinic and the surgeon confirmed there was a shadow on my lung and that he wanted to operate straight away.”
Within days, Patricia underwent surgery at Heartlands Hospital.
“They confirmed that it was lung cancer. I had no idea whatsoever.
“I had no time off work, no chest problems, I didn’t get colds, and I hadn’t had a cough for years. It was an absolute shock.
“Even when they said there was a shadow on my lung I still didn’t imagine it could be cancer.”
Although she had been a smoker, she gave up cigarettes almost two years before she was diagnosed with lung cancer in October 2007.
Patricia said the surgeon managed to remove the whole tumour, which also meant she did not need chemotherapy.
“I was absolutely thrilled with how quickly I was diagnosed and had my surgery. The consultant was very caring and very easy to talk to.”
But the operation still affected her, and meant she could not return to her job.
“I didn’t realise how big the operation was and how it was going to knock me for six.
“Now I get short of breath, I can’t walk very far, and can’t physically go back to the job I did. But, if that’s the price to pay then it’s well worth it just to be here.”