John Arnell, 45, had been working on the Covid frontline at Queen Alexandra Hospital and had put his tiredness and stomach cramps down to the stresses and strains of the coronavirus crisis.
The dedicated nurse, who had been working on the rehabilitation of Covid patients, said at the time: ‘It was a really busy period at the hospital so it was all hands on deck. I felt really tired all the time, with a slight cramping feeling in my side, but I just put it down to being busy on the ward.’
It wasn’t until John was referred to the Maxillofacial Department to have a lump removed, his anaesthetist realised John’s iron levels were extremely low so contacted his GP for further tests.
From that point, it was a rollercoaster of a journey for John and his family where he would later find out that he had stage 3 bowel cancer.
But in October 2021, things were looking up. John was finally given the news he was hoping for – he was cancer free. His CT scan was clear and taking his last dose of chemotherapy, John rang the bell to mark the moment.
This year things have continued to look good for John as he celebrated being discharged from the Oncology team.
John, of Copnor, said: ‘I was so pleased to finally be discharged from oncology. As I head back onto the wards picking up some of my clinical duties, I would say 2022 is kicking off to a good start.’
John thanks the support from his family and friends and the care he received at QA, which got him through the ups and downs. ‘I wish to thank my family for going through hell with me and holding me up. My friends and extended family of Portsmouth Hockey Club,’ he said.
‘For the outstanding care I received by everyone at Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, and of course for the support I received from my own team at the hospital. And to all others offering their well wishes. Thank you so much.’
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Following World Cancer Day on Friday, John hopes to use his story to help others get themselves checked. He said: ‘I never thought that I would be going through what I did at the age of 45. But I did and that is why I hope to raise awareness of bowel cancer in younger people.
‘I had little symptoms, so that is why it’s so important to listen to your body. If my story helps other people to get checked, then I will be so pleased.’