'I could not have survived without Kelly and her team'
Tom Owen praises the work of clinical nurse specialist Kelly Stackhouse, who helped him through his treatment for rectal cancer
Kelly works as lead bowel function clinical nurse specialist at Sandwell General Hospital in the West Midlands.
With her team of unsung heroes she carries out sterling work in the aftercare of patients with bowel cancer, rectal cancer and other debilitating and embarrassing aspects of incontinence.
No one likes to talk about it
Incontinence is one of those hidden subjects that no one likes to talk about or admit to suffering from. I firmly believe that there are tens of thousands of people who are suffering in silence because of these sorts of problems.
Thankfully, these specialists have alleviated the misery of many sufferers in the area. As I understand it, there are very few people dealing with this embarrassing condition in other parts of the country. There should be more.
At times, I was struggling
As a patient who receives treatment following rectal cancer several years ago, I could not have survived without Kelly and her leading-edge team. At various times I was really struggling. I feel very lucky that they have been there to help me when I most needed them.
But it does not stop there. Kelly and her colleagues have set up an anterior resection survival group and we hold a get-together about four times a year. We are able to swap information with each other, which is absolutely invaluable, and receive talks from staff in specialist areas such as diet, exercise and the latest treatment and medical products.
Meeting fellow sufferers
This help group has been an absolute boon to me personally and, I am sure, to other patients. One of my quibbles throughout my problems with the after-effects of my anterior resection was that I had never met any fellow sufferers.
I could not compare my progress with anyone. Now I can, and the group has been a great success. It will be a huge help to future patients.
Kelly and her colleagues have also held many charity events in their own time to raise money to buy specialised equipment. They are all selfless, just brilliant. But Kelly leads from the front and deserves recognition.
I do hope that the department goes from strength to strength. Their work is invaluable.