Cancer patient's plea to health chiefs

A FORMER head cancer patient today praised doctors at Ipswich Hospital for saving his life - and urged health bosses not to move the vital service to Norwich.

A FORMER head cancer patient today praised doctors at Ipswich Hospital for saving his life - and urged health bosses not to move vital services to Norwich.

Robert Anderson, of Top Road, Hasketon, is one of thousands of readers who have signed The Evening Star's petition to retain head and neck cancer surgery in Ipswich.

Anglia Cancer Network, which has recommended moving the surgery, claims the switch is necessary to comply with national guidelines that say specialist centres should be created to improve care.

But Mr Anderson, who was diagnosed with having a malignant tumour in his head in 2001, disagrees.

The 51-year-old was told by doctors that they needed to operate immediately after the tumour was found because it was growing near the roof of his mouth, and into his left nostril, causing his sinus' to become blocked.

He said: “I knew something had been wrong with my body but I didn't know what. I started getting a lot of sinus problems.

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“I cannot say enough about the doctors at Ipswich. They were excellent. It is especially thanks to consultants Jamie Morgan, Huw Davies and Mahmoud Salam that I got through it.

“I received the best care ever at Ipswich and that's why I think it shouldn't be moved to Norwich.”

Within a week of his diagnosis, he had been referred to the head and neck cancer surgery unit and was operated on.

During the operation, a biopsy was performed and it was decided to eradicate the tumour by chemotherapy.

There was some damage caused to his saliva glands during the procedure, which led to his teeth becoming rotten, but he claims Mr Davies, the oral and maxillofacial consultant, quickly found a dentist to fix the problem.

Mr Anderson added: “The whole team steered me through. I was very lucky to survive. I feel they saved my life. I tried to be relaxed about it all. I thought I'm either going to make it or I'm not so I should just get on with it.”

Following his illness, Mr Anderson quit as a farmer and retrained as a plumber.

He continued to receive regular check ups after the treatment and eventually got the all clear last November.

The proposal to move the services has caused uproar among Star readers, with nearly 2,400 people signing our petition. Readers have until June 4 to voice their concerns, at which point the consultation ends.

Tell us why you would like the services to stay in Ipswich. Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk