A mum who was given three months to live after being diagnosed with bowel cancer has thanked the surgeons who saved her life.
Caroline Guy, 56, is miraculously cancer free after undergoing extensive surgery at Queens Medical Hospital in Nottingham.
She was diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer in January 2020, which had spread to her ovaries and liver.
The former cancer patient returned to the hospital to thank staff and the Nottingham University Hospital NHS Trust that runs the hospital.
She said: "What you've got here is the best of the best.
"For the surgeons to say ‘we’ve got it all, you’re cancer free’ – how can I thank them? How can I thank the NHS? Some of the staff are like family.
"The amount of people who have been involved with my care, and they have all been wonderful."
Ms Guy first started experiencing symptoms in June 2019, but they were dismissed by a GP in Spain.
"My stomach was swollen - I'd googled my symptoms and I actually asked him outright if I had cancer, and he said no."
In January 2020, Caroline visited her husband Adam in Saudi Arabia, where her symptoms worsened.
"I was in pain walking, I looked seven months pregnant, and I woke up one night and was violently sick. I just felt horrendous."
She was rushed to hospital and within four days had MRI scans, x-rays and blood tests.
The surgeon told her husband it was very bad, and that she had "three to four months to live".
She was then classed as inoperable and incurable, and started a course of chemotherapy and a targeted drug, Cituximae.
By this time, Covid-19 had hit the headlines, and Ms Guy was desperate to see her daughters and family again.
She moved to Nottingham in September 2020 to join her daughter, but she caught Covid and immediately had to self isolate.
Ms Guy registered at the Nottingham City Hospital, where scans showed the tumour had reduced in size, and she was told she had two years to live.
Despite the Covid pandemic causing the NHS to reach near-breaking point, Ms Guy says she's grateful not a single appointment was missed.
She added: "It’s been a long hard process, but I have never had my treatment stopped. And the staff were absolutely marvellous – they were under tremendous pressure.
"Nurses that should’ve finished were still there hours after their shift had ended, because they can’t just walk away when machines are bleeping and patients need attention.”
The chemotherapy had been working well and scans revealed the tumours had shrunk to a size that enabled surgeons to operate. But it would be a huge operation.
"I said yes please. The only way you can beat bowel cancer is with surgery, to remove the primary cause.
"I knew that if I did that, the cancer might come back but if it did come back I would deal with it.”
Ms Guy nicknamed her surgeons Ant and Dec at the Queen's Medical Centre - Alastair Simpson and David Humes - who both removed part of her bowel and performed a hysterectomy.
She said: "The surgeon looked at me and said you’ve got no cancer. I said ‘are you sure? I just couldn’t believe it. It’s a miracle.”
"It cost £110,000 for my treatment in Saudi – my husband’s retirement fund – because I didn’t have insurance.
"The money it cost for private care – even though it was amazing – it doesn’t touch what I’ve had done here with the NHS, and the NHS gets such a bashing.
"I’ve been treated with so much compassion. I’m in awe of these people, and the colorectal nurse Kimberley was fantastic."
Ms Guy is now in remission for five years. She’ll be monitored every three months by her oncologist, Dr Chadwick.
Alastair, who is also Clinical Director of Cancer Alliance, said: "Caroline had extensive chemotherapy and surgical resection of multiple organs, which is physically demanding but also presents a significant psychological burden and carries the potential for serious complications.
"Nottingham has an Advanced Cancer Service which is able to coordinate this care and support her through the process.
"However, I must emphasise how important Caroline’s positive outlook and bravery has contributed to the successful outcome in her case."
Ms Guy told Acting Chief Executive Rupert Egginton and the Hospital's Chair Nick Carver: "I want everyone to know – the people in chemo, the porters, those in Lister, everywhere I’ve been – I need them to know that they are appreciated.
"I’ve got a life, hopefully for quite a few years – and it’s down to you lot."