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Our London to Brighton cyclists

Good luck to our ten London to Brighton cyclists who will be taking on the 54 mile bike ride this weekend.

We wish you a speedy race or relaxed ramble through the countryside depending on how wish to take on the challenge! Good luck to:

  • Greg Catley and Neil Catley cycling for our neonatal unit
  • Stuart Wayment, cycling for PLANETS (pancreatic liver and neuroendocrine tumours)
  • Owen Haisell, cycling for urology and heart surgery
  • James Butler and Paul Smith cycling for the paediatric intensive care unit
  • Robert Jansen cycling for cardiology
  • Rosie Baker and Claire Martin, cycling for our cancer services in memory of Nataleigh Davies (a colleague)

 

This year over 4,000 cyclists are expected to take part in the iconic ride whilst raising funds for extraordinary charities like Southampton Hospital Charity across the country. Thank you to our cyclists for joining them!

More on some of our cyclists can be found below:

 

Owen’s story

Owen, 77 is taking on the challenge of not only London to Brighton, but en-route home he will be cycling back to Lymington via the Isle of Wight to extend the challenge!

“Training has been going very well and I am thoroughly enjoying it. I cycle raced when I was a teenager so I'm back to being 18 again.”

 

Francesca’s story

“My husband James and my step dad Paul are doing the London to Brighton in memory of our daughter Francesca. 

Our care started from 20 weeks pregnant at Princess Anne Hospital up until the day she passed away at 8 weeks old. We received lots of care in your hospital in several departments and a lot of different specialists and are forever thankful for the care everyone provided in looking after our daughter. 

The money we raise is going to the neonatal intensive care unit as they truly saved our daughters life on several occasions and we wouldn't have the previous memories we did of her without them.” Mum, Charlie.

 

Greg Catley’s story

On 17 August 2014 my son Archie was born by emergency c-section after my wife and I went to the day unit at Princess Anne Hospital with reduced movements. The medical staff could tell that Archie was in distress and needed to be delivered immediately.  

When he was born he was very poorly, having inhaled meconium and had been starved of oxygen. The condition was called HIE and the decision was made to treat Archie with a technique called therapeutic hypothermia, also known as 'cooling treatment' where the baby's body temperature is reduced for 72 hours in order to prevent brain damage and then the baby is warmed back up again. 

Without this amazing treatment and the wonderful care from the staff at the neonatal unit at Southampton's PAH Archie may not be the perfectly healthy little boy he is today and we consider ourselves incredibly lucky that this care was available and Archie made a full recovery. Since Archie's stay in the paediatric intensive care unit I knew that I wanted to do something for charity to raise money for the unit, so this is why I have signed up to do the London to Brighton cycle. 

I would love to give something back to them, for saving our little boys life. So please sponsor me to help achieve this - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/Greg-Catley?utm_id=26 

 

Stuart Wayment’s story

My story starts in August 2012. I went along to the blood donor’s suite in Poole to give a pint, something that I have been doing for well over 30 years without so much as a dizzy or light headed feeling. I originally started giving blood for the extra hour off that my employer at the time used to give you, (as well as the tea and biscuits) and have gone on to be a silver level donor (25 donations) working towards Gold (50). However on this particular occasion I wasn’t allowed to give because the testing showed me to be a bit on the anemic side. I was sent home with a leaflet about anemia and the suggestion that I should have a good steak to bolster my iron count, and talk to my GP. The next morning I went along to my gym and did my usual morning workout, when I came out I was a little surprised to find three messages on my mobile phone asking me to call my GP.  Returning that call to my GP led me to visit her and after a few questions saw me admitted to Bournemouth hospital that same day for investigations.

During that first admission I was told that they suspected that I had a Gastrointestinal Stromal Tumour (GIST), but that further blood tests, scans and Gastroscopies would be required. The information leaflets I was given were from Macmillan Cancer Support and the Cancer word had been well and truly mentioned.

My journey to diagnosis wasn’t a simple straightforward one, which is hardly surprising given the rarity of what it eventually transpired that I was suffering from but during the summer of 2012 I had several admissions to Royal Bournemouth (mostly coinciding with the few sunny weekends we had) and a number of blood tests and investigations.

I have worked in and around health care for a large part of my working life, I had been told that I probably had some form of cancer in my Upper GI tract and I felt that things were not moving quickly enough. I rattled some fairly noisy cages in some fairly senior places in both the hospital Trust and the local Primary Care Trust.

I then ended up in the hands of Ray McCrudden who tried to get some biopsy material from whatever was inside me but had to report that whatever was lurking in my duodenum was necrotic. Later this was described to me as a mobile tumour with its own blood supply but that seemed to be strangulating itself and that might have been developing for ten years.

At this stage the decision was made to transfer me to the care of Southampton General Hospital.

As a result of this I was referred to Neil and I remember very clearly the first consultation when the discussion went along the lines of that there were two options. The least invasive would be that they could establish that I did have a cancer which could potentially be treated with drugs to shrink it prior to surgery to remove it (let’s hope it’s that option then), or alternatively I could be facing a Whipples procedure, at which point there was an audible intake of breath from my wife Caroline, who was with me and had been doing her internet research. Neil went on to say that the first option would be his preference, but that if I was facing him as a patient who definitely needed a Whipples then he would be telling me that they were very experienced in that procedure and that I was in good hands with a good prognosis. Off to wait for more pathology results hoping that the tumour could be treated at least initially with drugs. It later transpired that because of the necrotic nature of the biopsies, it was not possible to confirm or refute the diagnosis of GIST and so things moved at a pace towards the Whipples option.

I’m not blessed with huge amounts of patience nor am I particularly a worrier and so my attitude by now was “there’s something wrong, it needs fixing, now let’s get on with it” If I’m really honest I probably didn’t go into the operation with my eyes fully open and nor did I really believe the length of time it would take me to recover. That’s no reflection on Neil and the team, who did their best to make things clear, its more a reflection on my approach. Others around me (notably my wife) took on board what we were told and in truth probably did most of the worrying for me. I often think it must be harder for those around you than it is to be the patient.

I was admitted to Southampton General for surgery on 30 October 2012, looking back whilst writing this it seems surprising that all of this happened in just three months, it felt at the time like a lifetime.  I had after all been told at an early stage that there was a 90% plus chance that the tumour was cancerous.

The operation took ten hours. I remember very little about the first few days, which were spent in ITU feeling like I’d been hit by a bus, so that bit of the story is best covered by my wife;

“I am Stuart’s wife Caroline, as Stuart has already stated I did the worrying for us both and the first few days in High Dependency were fairly traumatic.  Stuart‘s, temperature and heart rate was up and down like a yoyo. However, after much excellent care by both clinical and nursing staff Stuart slowly came back to me.  HDC Matron was so supportive and I couldn’t have got through it without her. One of my learning points was it most important you have friends around you to support you, and even though it is hard you must look after yourself.”

Other stories on here mention the self-administered morphine and the associated fluffy bunnies, for me there was purple grass growing on the curtains around my bed and aside from a real personal interest taken by the ITU nursing staff my recollection is sketchy.  I’m probably not a good patient and once I was out of ITU my real focus became on getting home. Probably the first thing I said at every ward round was “when can I go home?” And I recall Arjun saying to Dr Jack one day “don’t let him bully you into letting him go home too soon”.

I was in hospital for 14 days, during which time I lost two and a half stone as well as various bits of internal plumbing, Pancreas, duodenum and Stomach and a rather large tumour, and I woke up with what looked like a railway track running from my chest down and round to my hip and three drainage bags uncomfortable stuck to me. I was glad I had shaved my arms so that the sticking plaster didn’t hurt coming off and wished I had thought to do some other hair removal, particularly when the drainage bags were being changed (that really hurt!). Looking at my scar my first thought was that I needed to tattoo some tooth marks around it and make out I was a shark attack victim. It was also at this point that I realized that I would have a long list of drugs to take for life.

Sitting around in hospital for that amount of time, there was plenty of time to reflect on the fragility of life, this illness for me had come as a complete bolt out of the blue and whilst nobody knows what is around the corner I resolved to recover my levels of fitness and live life to the full.

When I did finally go home in the middle of November, the reality of how weak I was hit home. I couldn’t manage the full two flights of stairs to bed without a sit down half way and I had virtually no appetite, anyone who knows me knew that I was a big eater, now I could hardly face a whole sandwich.

At an outpatient clinic at the end of November I finally got to hear the diagnosis, which was that I had had a Giant Brunner’s Gland Hematoma, quite rare with only one other recorded incident, in of all places New York! The good news though was that it was benign.

Unfortunately about two weeks after discharge I was unwell and readmitted for a stay that was about 10 days and made me wonder if I was going to experience a Christmas day in hospital, thankfully that didn’t happen.

Lots of seemingly small things become real milestones and my next target was to get rid of the drainage bags, finding ways to stay comfortable with bags of fluid taped to you was a real challenge as was having a shower, which in itself was an exhausting process.

I had two of the bags removed in mid December and the third one thankfully just before Christmas. It was after the removal of these that the pace of recovery moved on. The family photographs of Christmas 2012 include some rather gaunt looking pictures of me trying on some new running clothes.

I couldn’t really walk very far to start with and on a few occasions we went to the beach where it was all I could manage to get from the car park to a bench by the beach, (probably no more than 100 yards) but that was an opportunity to set new targets and gradually the distance I could walk increased. My next milestone was to do a full lap of the woods behind our house. It took some time and initially I had to do the lap using the easier, downhill route, but I did get around to doing the full mile.

I had initially been told to expect it to take me around 9 months to a year to get back to my previous levels of fitness and which hadn’t really been on my radar. I’m generally fairly active and for me holidays (to Quote Mrs. W) have to be either up in the mountains or under the water. We missed both our summer (scuba diving) and our winter (Skiing) holiday in late 2012/early 2013 so the next target was to be fit enough to catch up on those activities.  By now I had let my gym membership lapse so I set up a small area in the garage to get some work outs in and chose the most challenging workout DVD’s that I could find to prove a point to myself.

In July 2013 only 9 months after my operation I had the opportunity to do something that I had long had on my “to do” list with my first flying lesson. It was a fantastic hour made even better by taxiing to take off past the Red Arrows (boyhood heroes of mine) who were over-nighting at Bournemouth airport and were lined up along the runway. I flew out over the Isle of Wight and the Needles before coming back over Southampton and the New Forest, a brilliant present (thank you Mrs. W).

Then in October 2013 (just two weeks short of the 1st anniversary of my operation), I got back underwater with a 45 minute 15 metre deep wall dive followed by a 48 minute 10 metre marine park dive. They must have improved my breathing too because I don’t usually manage that long!

Next up in March 2014 it was off to the mountains to play in the snow and thanks to a new app I was able to record a top speed of just under 30mph in the Canadian mountains and a blast or two down their black runs.  It’s a shame that the ski app didn’t also work in the hire car because on the way back to the airport I fell foul of the Mounties and their strict speed limits and ended that holiday with a speeding fine!

Before my illness I had done the occasional charity fundraiser, such as running marathons or skydiving, but I had long held an ambition to take on a fire walk. So my next challenge became organizing the Great Ferndown Firewalk, which took place in July 2014, and 44 people including Arjun took to the coals with me. We had a great time and raised both money and profile for PLANETS (a cancer fund of Southampton Hospital Charity).

So there is plenty of life left after a Whipples with lots of exciting things to do but there’s also lots of simple pleasures to be gained from being with friends and family, walking dogs on the beach or just making the most of every day. I may not ever be able to get round to giving that 50th pint of blood, (I don’t think they will let me do that) but that’s a small price to pay.  My thanks to all the people who helped me along the way.




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