At around midnight on Wednesday 18 May I had just turned my light out when my phone rang. It was my sister who lives in England. Over the past few years she has always seemed to have one bug or another and since February she has been struggling with pneumonia. She was often tired but would never take time off work to fully recover. Since January she had lost almost a stone and a half in weight but had put it down to healthier eating. The last time we skyped she was showing me how she could fit into her new size 10 skinny jeans. She continued to cough a lot and had to sit down frequently. She was calling me at midnight to tell me that she had just been to the doctor`s and been told she had lung cancer. She is 39 and and a non-smoker.
I didn`t sleep that night. The next day I went in to work with no clear idea of what to do. Thanks to CH who sat me down and talked through my options with me, I took three weeks of leave, went to Shinjuku and bought a ticket to England, went home and packed a bag, got on the train to Narita and spent the night at a hotel near the airport. Thanks to G for booking the hotel for me. The next morning I flew via Schipol to Norwich where my family lives.
Because of breathing difficulties, my sister had been admitted to hospital after her diagnosis. She had spent time in hospital in previous weeks because her so-called `pneumonia` was not going away. Then the doctors had put a needle in her right lung to drain fluid from between the two lung sacks and suctioned it into a `bucket` (see photographs above). Now she had the needle in again and in the first 24 hours had produced over a litre and a half of bloody fluid. She was being given morphine on demand.
Lung cancer is the most common of cancers and has the worst long-term prognosis of them all. It is on the increase globally especially amongst young women, even non-smokers.