Family hit by cancer twice on same day thank hospital that treated them

Friday 29 June 2018

Andy Poole and Paul Roumph at Cancer Survivors' Day

A grandfather and his son-in-law who were diagnosed with cancer on the same day have strutted their stuff on the catwalk to mark Cancer Survivors’ Day.

Andy Poole, 69 from Beckenham in Kent, was diagnosed with bladder cancer on Valentine’s Day 2014.

He was shocked to find out that in the same afternoon his son-in-law, Paul Roumph, was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Both went on to receive treatment at Guy’s and St Thomas’.

Andy, a retired firefighter and father of two, said: “Paul came over with my daughter, Alex, to break the news and they couldn’t believe it when I told them I had cancer too. It’s ridiculous but unfortunately one in two people get cancer these days.”

The pair teamed up on Sunday 24 June to model in the Cancer Survivors’ Day fashion show at Guy’s Hospital.

Now in its fourth year, the annual event celebrates those who have survived cancer and the teams at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who have treated them.

Paul and Andy were among a number of models who wore England football shirts, which had been donated by The Football Association.

Andy said: “It was our first modelling job and our last! The fantastic care and treatment we received at Guy’s and St Thomas’ meant that we can both carry on with our lives so we wanted to give something back.”

Three tumours were discovered on the wall of Andy’s bladder so he underwent pioneering robotic surgery at Guy’s Hospital to remove his bladder and prostate.

The nine-and-a-half-hour operation also involved creating a replacement bladder, known as a neo-bladder, using a section of Andy’s bowel, which functions in the same way as a normal bladder in most patients.

Andy, who has been married to his wife, Virginia, for 45 years: said: “The surgeons told me about the ‘Full Monty’ option which involved taking away my bladder and prostate and making a neo-bladder.

“All the other options would have left me with a bag or tube so I didn’t really need to think about it. I immediately said yes because I knew it was the only way of living a normal life again.”

Paul, 37 from West Wickham in Kent, had surgery at his local hospital before being transferred to Guy’s Hospital for chemotherapy treatment.

The father of two, who works in banking, said: “Although it was difficult for our family at the time, it kind of worked out well because we went through it at the same time rather than one after the other. I had fantastic care and got back to normality fairly quickly.”

Professor Muhammad Shamim Khan, Mr Ramesh Thurairaja and Mr Rajesh Nair, were the three consultant urological surgeons in the bladder cancer team at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who treated Andy.

Professor Khan said: “We perform 80 to 90 robotic cystectomy operations (removal of the bladder) each year at Guy’s Hospital and around 10% of these patients are suitable for a neo-bladder. In Andy’s case, we used 50cm of his small bowel to create the new bladder.”

During a robotic procedure, surgeons control the robot’s ‘arms’ from a console. A camera, which is inserted into one of the robotic arms, enables surgeons to see inside the patient from the console. The equipment offers 3D vision, allowing depth perception and a magnified view while they operate. It also eliminates tremor and provides an increased range of movement.

Professor Khan added: “Using robotic surgery meant that Andy was left with small scars and was able to recover faster than he would have done with open surgery. We are delighted that he is doing so well and took part in Cancer Survivors’ Day.”

Dr Sarah Rudman, consultant medical oncologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who specialises in testicular cancer, said: “Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancer if it is detected early and treated appropriately, and  affects around 2,200 men in the UK each year. Paul has made a brilliant recovery and it’s great to hear that he celebrated with his family on Cancer Survivors’ Day.”

As well as a fashion show, live music, seminars and exhibits, Cancer Survivors’ Day, which is supported by Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, also included a Celebration Walk to raise money for the Cancer Centre at Guy’s.

Last updated: March 2022

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