Grandfather appreciating life after cancer diagnosis

Grandfather appreciating life after cancer diagnosis

6 February 2019

SIXTY-EIGHT year-old Sean Lennon is a retired electrical contractor, who lives in Portaferry with his wife, Patricia.

He is a father of four and has three grandchildren. He is also the uncle of Dr Helen Coleman’s husband.

In July 2010 Mr Lennon noticed that he had difficulty swallowing and food wasn’t going down properly.

“I’d had a hernia, caused by acid reflux a few years previously and wondered if it had anything to do with that, so I made an appointment with my GP and visited him around early September,” he said.

“He referred me to the Ulster Hospital to have a dye test later that month and in November I was called for an endoscopy at the Downe Hospital.

“My consultant saw from the photos that my gullet was yellow and had bile in it and that the inside lining of my stomach was inflamed.

“I was given an oesophageal cancer diagnosis and was told that it hadn’t continued into my stomach, which was a relief.”

After Christmas 2010 Mr Lennon had three months of chemotherapy in Belfast City Hospital to prepare for an operation 

on April 12, 2011, at the Ulster Hospital.

“They made an incision from my belly button round my ribcage and deflated my right lung to get the tumour out and then brought my stomach up a few inches to rejoin the tube,” he recalled.

I was in hospital for two weeks and then took the best part of five months to recover at home. 

I was reviewed after three months and they were happy with my progress and I still go back once a year for a check-up. I feel that I received excellent treatment and would really praise all the hospital staff for the way I was looked after.”

He continued: “There have been changes to my life as I still have a weakness in my right side. I can’t eat large amounts any more so I just have small portions and eat little and often, following a high protein diet.

“This experience has made me appreciate day to day life in a way that I didn’t before and I appreciate each day sent to me and time spent with my wife, children and grandchildren.

“Although my cancer diagnosis was a big shock, I feel fortunate that it hadn’t spread into my stomach, so I know I did the right thing by acting quickly when I noticed changes in my swallowing and would encourage others to do the same.

“It was a big operation, but I’m delighted to have responded so well to my treatment and to be able to enjoy life again.

“I’m so pleased that money is being invested in research in this area to help people who are affected by oesophageal cancer.”