Gillian Lightstone, aged 54, from Hemel Hempstead, was diagnosed with kidney cancer in September 2012. She had her right kidney removed at Charing Cross Hospital and started on a course of chemotherapy tablets. But, just six months later, and despite earlier clear CT scans and X-rays, she was devastated to learn the cancer had returned, and spread. She said: “It was completely awful. I had hoped to get another clear scan. I was feeling well and really thought it had gone. To then get the news that it had spread was terrifying. My husband and four children were distraught.”
Gillian was referred to Mount Vernon Hospital, closer to her home, for further chemotherapy treatment, but in May 2013 she began to cough up blood and was having difficulty breathing. She was referred to Mr Dimitrios Kyparissopoulos, consultant thoracic surgeon at Harefield, who performed a chest CT and bronchoscopy. He explained: “Gillian had a very large lesion obliterating her left bronchus and that was causing her distressing symptoms. I advised that we start cryotherapy straight away to try to shrink the lesion.”
Over the course of the next year, Gillian had 10 cryotherapy treatments. She said: “I found it very frightening to begin with, but Dimitrios was incredibly calm and reassuring. After the first treatment, I noticed the difference straight away and felt able to breathe easier. I felt better and better each time. I had a bit of a sore throat after each treatment, but obviously the benefits far outweighed this. It has been great being able to come in as a day case patient and, if I was seen early in the morning, I could be home just after lunch time.”
Due to the cryotherapy treatment, the tumours in Gillian’s lungs have now disappeared. She is continuing chemotherapy treatment and sees Mr Kyparissopoulos for follow-up appointments every three months.
Mr Kyparissopoulos said: “We’ve been absolutely delighted by Gillian’s results – her scans are now completely clear and she has her life back.”
Gillian said: “I can’t thank Dimitrios and the team enough. I can’t describe how frightening it is not being able to breathe and coughing up blood. But to get clear scans is just wonderful. I don’t even think about my breathing any more, I just feel normal.”