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Cancer patient presents 'amazing' UHNM staff with Hero Award

A cancer patient has returned to UHNM to thank the ‘amazing’ staff who cared for her during her journey.

Castell Davis from Stafford was diagnosed with bowel cancer two years ago, requiring a range of treatment including surgery, chemotherapy and a stoma bag being fitted.

She was able to thank Mr Martin Farmer, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Dorothy Munyanyi, Lead Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist, and members of UHNM’s Stoma Team by presenting them with a ‘UHNM Hero Award.’

Castell said: “I was diagnosed with bowel cancer in the summer of 2021. This came as a real shock and to say I was scared was a massive understatement. It was one of the diagnoses everybody dreads.

“It was only two weeks between diagnosis and surgery but Mr Farmer was so incredibly kind to me. He reassured me that he could deal with this cancer, that I would get thorough this, and that he would be there to support me every step of the way.

“Due to finding unexpected fibroids, my surgery didn't entirely go the way Mr Farmer and I were hoping for. I had to have an ileostomy bag fitted whilst my wounds healed. The nurses from the Stoma Team supported me from the day the ileostomy bag was fitted, until the day it was removed two years later. The Stoma Team were as happy as I was the day I had the reversal done.

“The support that the Stoma Team have given me has been nothing short of amazing. I only had to pick up the phone and call them, if I was worried about symptoms I was experiencing or needed some advice. They've got me through the last two years with the ileostomy bag and ensured I didn't get any serious complications. If they were worried about something, they would ask me to see them at Royal Stoke the following day. Nothing was ever too much trouble and their advice was invaluable. I wouldn't have coped with the stoma bag without them.

“Mr Farmer, Dorothy and the Stoma Team have all been so kind, caring and supportive throughout my two years of treatment, which included two lots of major surgery and chemotherapy.

“I also had my ileostomy bag reversal done by Mr Farmer using the Da Vinci surgical robot. True to his word, Mr Farmer has got me through this, I am now cancer free and well on the road to recovery.

“The care I have experienced from the whole team at UHNM over the last two years has been so far above and beyond what I expected. I honestly cannot thank them enough and I couldn't have asked for better.”

Castell’s daughter Rebecca said: “Mum’s diagnosis in the middle of the pandemic was incredibly difficult, but Mr Farmer and the staff here took the fear away. The surgery was fantastic and so was the after care. You knew that if you were worried about literally anything you had the back up and support which when you’re going through something like cancer is so important.”  

Mr Martin Farmer, Consultant Colorectal Surgeon said: “Unfortunately things don’t always go to plan, and it’s about managing what occurs and making sure you do everything safely. In this instance making use of stoma bags to get us out of a tricky situation was worth it because safety is aways the most important thing, and we got the result we were after. The cancer side of everything was important too with Castell, making sure we were doing the most appropriate cancer operation. I’m pleased that everything went well in the end and it’s nice to receive recognition for my work, but every time a patient does well that’s all that you really need.”

Dorothy Munyanyi, Lead Colorectal Clinical Nurse Specialist said: “This is an example of the care we provide every day, and it is a pleasure to support patients when they are going through their cancer journey and being there for them in that time of need. I’m very grateful to have a fantastic team supporting our patients through their bowel cancer pathway.”

Sime Ndlovu, Lead Stoma care Clinical Nurse Specialist said: “We worked with Castell right through her journey, from the beginning of her diagnosis through to her follow-up clinics. Nothing is too much trouble when it comes to our patients, they are the reason why we are here.”

Ann-Marie Riley, Chief Nurse at UHNM added: “This award epitomises what our staff are known for- their care and compassion and having a positive impact on patients and their families and it was an honour to present this award.”