Sarcoma: Nick Samuel's Story

My mum was a reasonably healthy 69-year-old with a relaxed lifestyle, did lots of walking with her dog met friends for lunches. Unfortunately, in 2019, we lost mum to a rare form of cancer – Angiosarcoma.

Mum's story

2017

Sadly, my mum went to the hospital in January 2017 as she had bruising in the spot where she had previously had radiotherapy. But it wasn’t until seven months later, when the area was much worse, that doctors realised either the breast cancer had returned or a sarcoma cancer had developed. As we later found, Sarcoma is quite a rare cancer, and this seems hard to identify. In August of that year, mum had an operation to remove one breast

More Sarcoma came up, and in October 2017, Mum had her other breast removed. Then, as if Mum hadn’t been through enough, more Sarcoma came up. In December 2017, Mum had yet another operation with a small skin graft.

2018

In mid-2018, mum underwent a second skin graft to treat more Sarcoma.

Later that year, a new lump came up on Mum’s shoulder, and a hospital consultant advised not to operate as they couldn’t guarantee they could get it all out. They then started Mum on a few types of chemotherapy. Mum persevered with it all but started to deteriorate as the chemo was starting to take its toll.

On Christmas Eve 2018, we saw some Sarcoma Cancer specialists in The Royal Marsden Hospital in London. I remember being in the room with Mum as the Doctors looked over her and I will never forget them asking me (with Mum’s permission) to take photos of her front which had been so scared from all of the operations Mum had endured.

Mum was in good spirits, and the specialist told us of a Drugs Trial they were running and that Mum might be considered suitable for it. We were all so much happier with this news as it gave us hope that we had a Plan B. We left The Royal Marsden on that cold Christmas Eve in high spirits.

2019

Mum seemed to be doing well in January and in February celebrated her 70th Birthday. But, at the beginning of March, things took a turn and Mum started getting breathlessness and was rushed into hospital. Mum kept having to have fluid removed from her breast area. Eventually, my sister learnt how to do this and Mum was allowed home and doctors arranged for an MRI to see what was causing the problem.

The results came through, and it was not good. The Sarcoma had spread so quickly, and it was this that was causing this fluid build-up. Mum was discharged from the hospital on the 20th or 21st March. Community Nurses came around to drain the fluid each day, and they arranged for a delivery of oxygen as Mum needed assistance to breathe.

We also had an appointment back up at the Royal Marsden in London on Monday 25th March. Mum dramatically went downhill on the Saturday before, and after an emergency call to the doctor’s service, I drove off to pick up a Morphine prescription.

Mum decided she still wanted to travel to London, so made all the necessary arrangements and headed into London.

Mum was so weak and almost as soon as we arrived my sister had to get Mum to a room to do another drainage quickly. The consultants gently told us that Mum was far too weak to undergo a Drugs Trial programme. The best thing we could do was to get Mum home to Devon.

We went back to Devon that night, getting her home around midnight. The doctor came on the Wednesday having to ask horrendous questions about do not resuscitate, and the nurses came from Macmillan & Rowcroft.

In the early hours of Thursday 28th March, I lay on the bed with Mum, holding her. I will never forget the moment she passed around 9 am.

Working with Sarcoma UK

I hate cancer more than anything, all of them. To see the person you love most in the world have to suffer in such a way is just cruel. This is why Samuel Estates and I chose to support the Sarcoma UK Charity.

Angiosarcoma develops from the cells that make up the walls of blood vessels. It can occur anywhere throughout the body but most commonly in the skin, breast, liver, spleen, and the deep tissues of the body. Angiosarcoma in the skin usually develops on the face and scalp. In some rare cases, angiosarcoma can occur in the heart.

Sarcoma UK is the only UK charity that focusses on all types of Sarcoma. They fund vital research, offer support for anyone affected by sarcoma cancer and campaign for better treatments.

The charity aims to drive more awareness of this rare form of cancer, find better treatments and provide information and support to those living with Sarcoma cancers.

Sarcoma UK’s goals

  • More people will survive Sarcoma cancers.
  • More will be known about the causes of Sarcoma.
  • Everyone affected by Sarcoma will have access to the best treatment and care.

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