Northampton man: ‘I’m dying, but I have never been happier’

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A Northampton man with terminal cancer said specialist nurses have inspired him to a new lease of life.

James Keating-Wilkes, from Northampton, was diagnosed with lung cancer in September 2013.

But he says a Lung Cancer Pathway Project, run by Northampton General Hospital and Macmillan Cancer Support nurses, has led him to an unexpectedly positive outlook on his condition.

Mr Keating-Wilkes said: “The team has been fantastic. They have been the link between all the different clinicians I see in the hospital, the local hospice, and my GP, which has meant my care is better coordinated. This has meant I am able to spend more time at home, so my experience as a patient has improved and has made me feel as though I am not battling this diagnosis alone.”

After being referred by the team to a psychologist, he said he got vital help to “enhance and maintain” a positive attitude that many may think impossible in his situation.

He said: “Accepting the unacceptable is never easy, but with a positive attitude, a sense of humour and help from Macmillan I have been able to see myself as living with cancer and not dying from it.

“My perception of lung cancer before my diagnosis was very different to what my actual experience of it has been. I am making the most of every day and I can honestly say I have never been happier than I am now.”

The new model of care involves undertaking a holistic needs assessment for every patient to identify their individual needs, and looking at care planning at significant points throughout their cancer journey to prevent emergency unnecessary admissions.

Mr Keateing-Wilkes said: “The holistic approach of the project has given me a vastly improved quality of life. My diagnosis has not signified the end of my life, for me it’s been the beginning. I knew very little about Macmillan but having now engaged fully with them I cannot speak highly enough of the service and of the people delivering it.”