Posted on: April 5, 2021

Medical Perspectives: Dr Claire Taylor

After sharing Ken’s story yesterday, today we share a message from Macmillan Complex Cancer Nurse Dr Claire Taylor, who is part of the team who have looked after Ken.

“I first met Ken in November 2013 when he was referred to the Complex Cancer service for consideration for a total pelvic exenteration. The local team were not able to offer him the operation he needed to remove his cancer so he was referred to our service. He was then planned for chemoradiation treatment at his local hospital in Northamptonshire to downstage his cancer prior to surgery. This was a stressful time for him, with all the hospital appointments, worry about his cancer and prospect of such major surgery.

My next face to face contact with Ken and his wife Andrea was in February 2014; I spent considerable time listening to their concerns, it was a very emotional for them. It had been nearly a year since he had been diagnosed and Ken has found it understandably hard going having to work his life around all the hospital care whilst he coped with the side-effects of his treatment. He was frustrated that he could not work as much as he wished or be as active as usual. He was keen to get on with the surgery.

My role involves a lot of coordination to help ensure all the right tests are completed prior to surgery, all the right people are involved and that Ken is as ready as he can be for this operation. The preparation includes talking through in detail the changes this surgery will bring physically, emotionally, socially and financially. People need to be fully aware and accepting of the adjustments they will need to make in the short-term and longer-term.

Ken had his operation in April 2014. He recovered exceptionally well and was out of hospital in record time. By July, he told me that he felt 90% back to health and he was planning on returning to work soon. He reports no issues walking, driving, eating or sleeping and feels his emotions are more regulated now. I have seven more contacts by phone with him over the next 6 months until he fully recovers and resumes all his prior pastimes.

Over the next 7 years I have had contact with Ken every few months, arranging his surveillance, helping with appointments and any residual health issues and providing information as needed.

Over the years you get to know people like Ken (your patients) well and it is wonderful to be able to offer support as needed and see them return to living a good quality full life. A particular milestone is when they reach the five years from surgery time point without any sign of disease recurrence and we then know the chance the cancer will now return are very low.

Ken has been very kind and helped us too, offering valuable support to several service development and research projects we have been involved in. A great partnership!”


Dr Claire Taylor pictured in her St Mark’s Hospital Foundation t-shirt helping raise awareness of bowel disease