THE BLOG
08/07/2018 13:07 BST | Updated 08/07/2018 13:07 BST

What The NHS's 70th Birthday Means To Me

At no point during my leukaemia treatment did I feel let down

A Mamwell
During my intense chemotherapy for AML

70 years ago the NHS was born and it has saved thousands of lives since, that is something no one can deny though it doesn’t seem to get the same publicity as the negative aspects. I wanted to share my positive experience where I benefited massively from our NHS with the one thing I treasure the most, my life!

It provides many things that are taken for granted, hidden by our complacency because we are so used to it being there. Regularly used as a political pawn where one area is focused on yet it’s saving lives every day of the week, fact! Yes there are areas that need improvement, I have had some poor experiences too but when my life was on the line I cannot fault it. Sadly I know why some can’t agree with me and my heart goes out to them but equally I want to share thoughts.

In 2015 I was diagnosed with one of the most deadly forms of blood cancer (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) which has a 40% survival rate with only 15% of patients surviving beyond five years. I am still in remission thanks to the treatment I received. Maybe until you have been though a life or death situation and experienced how well the systems kick in you don’t fully appreciate how brilliant the NHS and its workforce really are. I’ve always been thankful to the NHS, one reason being that my mother has been through and survived two separate breast cancer diagnosis. Someone who sadly lost her beautiful daughter, Emily, to blood cancer recently said something that really spoke to my heart and was a perspective that I hadn’t really considered. How the NHS may not always be able to save lives but it gives families more precious time.

‘I wish the NHS a very happy birthday and take this opportunity to thank the NHS for saving my life and giving me the strength to carry on. Not because I have an illness or condition but because I go to sleep every night safe in the knowledge that they did everything they could to save my daughter Emily’s life. She didn’t die because they failed her. I got 410 extra days with her because they succeeded.’ Donna Dunn

My family and I have so much to thank the NHS and those who work in it for; from my doctor’s surgery, the pathologist who having analysed my bloods knew that my high white blood count meant I needed immediate treatment and escalated my case, through to the medical team who were waiting for me when I arrived at the hospital the night I was admitted.

Leukaemia is a complicated disease affecting the whole body so many different departments and consultants have been involved in my care. I developed sepsis caused by the Leukaemia several times and every time my team were on top of it quickly and efficiently. At no point during my treatment did I feel let down, I was treated sensitively and with respect and had complete trust in my medical team. They were always accessible and happy to listen to my questions and concerns. The auxiliary staff were also fantastic, nothing was too much trouble, they were happy to do whatever they could to make me comfortable during my six month stay and when I was unable to take care of my toilet needs they really were very considerate.

My Dad was very suddenly taken ill, also in 2015 and when my Mum dialled 999 a first responder plus an ambulance arrived quickly. Using their skills and knowledge to diagnose what had looked like a heart attack as an aneurysm he was rushed to one hospital for an emergency scan which they electronically sent through to another hospital who assembled a surgical team ready to operate the minute he arrived. We were told he’d had a 20% chance of survival, all of this happened on a Sunday afternoon in a rural area.

When I read comments from fellow Leukaemia patients, who don’t live in the UK, concerned about the costs of their life saving treatment I am thankful that while I was struggling through my gruelling treatment one thing I didn’t have to worry about was having to selling my home to save my life. Not once did the massive cost of my months in hospital and expensive treatment cross my mind.

There are many unnecessary pressures on the NHS caused by the public generally that could be avoided but these don’t get reported as much and the blame put elsewhere.

So Happy 70th Birthday NHS, I for one hope you are still here saving and improving lives for the next 70 years!