Commandant of Cambridgeshire ACF Raises Awareness of Cancer
A CADET force commander says he is lucky to be alive after his ‘heartburn’ turned out to be a common form of cancer.
Colonel Roger Herriot, who lives in Impington, had suffered from bad heartburn for more than five years, but never thought it could be a sign of cancer.
He was regularly taking over-the-counter heartburn and indigestion remedies including a daily dose of Gaviscon before bed to try to prevent heartburn waking him up in the night.
The 60-year-old said: “I just assumed I was someone who would always suffer from heartburn and it was a part of getting older.
“People just don’t know it can be a sign of something more serious and if I’d known about the symptoms I would have got it checked earlier.”
The volunteer commandant of Cambridgeshire Army Cadet Force was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2010 and said he was very lucky that it was caught at an early stage.
He had chemotherapy and keyhole surgery at Addenbrooke’s in May 2011 and has recovered well.
His diagnosis came after his daughter-in-law, who is a doctor, started nagging him daily by text about booking an appointment with his GP.
Roger said: “It’s so important to go and see your doctor if you have persistent heartburn or indigestion or difficulty swallowing.
“Don’t put your head in the sand, because it won’t go away.
“I should have done it a year earlier than I did and I may not have got the cancer.”
He is now helping the NHS promote its Be Clear on Cancer campaign, aimed at improving public awareness about the symptoms of the relatively little known, but increasingly common cancers of the oesophagus and stomach.
Together these cancers affect nearly 700 people in the eastern region each year.
Richard Hardwick, consultant surgeon and lead clinician for upper GI cancer at Addenbrooke’s, said: “Roger’s symptoms were typical of someone who suffered from acid reflux, which can sometimes lead on to cancer of the oesophagus.
“The message is that if you have got persistent symptoms of heartburn or indigestion, you should go and seek a consultation with your doctor straight away.”
For more information visit www.nhs.uk/ogcancer.
By Rachel Allen – Cambridge News
Picture – Commandant of Cambridgeshire ACF, Colonel Roger Herriot