A grandmother from Surrey who was diagnosed with terminal cancer five years ago has thanked her NHS "angels" after being given a miraculous all-clear from the disease.When Evelyn Stone turned 76 last month, she and her family were able to toast the most wonderful news imaginable.
Despite being diagnosed with terminal bowel cancer in 2016, 62 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy later, the grandmother-of-two has defied all the odds and is now completely clear of the disease.
After receiving the good news, Evelyn made one last visit to St Luke's Cancer Centre based at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust in Guildford, to thank staff and complete a final task.
Dressed in superhero cape and mask, she rang the special St Luke's bell to say 'goodbye' to cancer.She said: "The plaque by the bell says 'Ring this bell, three times well' but to be honest I couldn't stop ringing it. I must have dinged that bell about 50 times. And there will never be enough words to thank the most amazing staff at St Luke's. You are all angels and I thank you from the bottom of my heart."
Evelyn was first diagnosed in 2012 and although her cancer was treated successfully at St Luke's, it returned with a vengeance in 2016.She was given the devastating news that she had only nine to 12 months to live.
Evelyn's daughter Debbie said: "When Mum was first diagnosed with cancer we were absolutely shocked. She had been in a lot of pain and seeing her GP but we thought the problem was constipation or diverticulitis. Mum isn't the type to complain and we didn't think it was serious."It was only when she went in one day and saw a different doctor that the possibility that it might be cancer was raised.
"Everything happened very quickly from that point. Mum had lots of different tests and a colonoscopy and we found out that she had bowel cancer.
"Mum was told she would need an operation because the tumour on her bowel was quite big and that went ahead in July 2012. She then had to recover before having chemotherapy, which started three months later. After six rounds of chemotherapy she was given the all clear."Within four years, Evelyn, from Farnham, fell ill again. She was told her cancer had returned and spread and this time she was facing a terminal diagnosis."Hearing that news was unbelievably hard, I really felt there was no hope for me," said Evelyn. "But I am a very positive person and I just tried to take things one day at a time, which helped me cope. I kept saying to my friends and family and to myself, there's always light at the end of the tunnel."
She was offered palliative chemotherapy and started intravenous treatment every three weeks.She said: "All the nurses and staff in Royal Surrey are absolutely wonderful, they are angels. I also had fantastic support from staff at a local hospice, who were absolutely superb. They offer such an amazing service with counselling, massage, manicures and all sorts of support."Debbie said her mum is a "total inspiration"."Mum is amazing," she said. "From 2016 to the start of lockdown, she had 62 gruelling rounds of chemotherapy. We call her super mum because she never ever complains."
Evelyn said: "During the chemotherapy treatment and when Covid happened, there were definitely days when I wanted to give up. There were a couple of times when I said 'I can't do this any more' but my children Steven and Debbie just turned round and said, 'Yes you can Mum, you're strong. You can do it'."It's because of my family that I've kept going. My children, grandchildren and my family mean the world to me."From early 2020, Evelyn received regular scans to check how the cancer was progressing. In early October, Debbie and Evelyn gathered as usual to hear the results from the most recent scan via a phone call from Royal Surrey.
A registrar told them there was no sign of any cancer."I was so stunned, I couldn't believe it," said Evelyn. "It's just absolutely amazing and it still doesn't seem real even weeks later. It's just a miracle."My consultant phoned me afterwards and explained that I'm what they call a 'super responder' and that I've reacted very well to the treatment but she emphasised that this very, very seldom happens. She said I'd done so well, but I told her, 'no it's all of you who have done so well for me, thank you so much'."
Sharadah Essapen, consultant clinical oncologist, said: "Evelyn is an amazing lady who has been incredibly brave and positive throughout her many years of treatment."Being cleared of cancer after receiving such a final diagnosis is a rare occurrence but wonderful to be part of. It is a very rewarding and uplifting moment for all those who have looked after her, myself included. We wish Evelyn all the very best."