"I owe my Life to Barrett's Wessex”
Bill Boyce feels he is lucky to be alive.
Bill had suffered with heartburn for years. Like many others, he thought heartburn was a normal, irritating, aspect of life that could be helped with antacid medication.
“Towards the latter years of my working life, my lunch box consisted of two filled rolls, crisps, a cake and a bottle of Gaviscon.” he says.
His wife, however, thought otherwise. Not everyone suffered from heartburn. “... and he spends a fortune on Gaviscon,” she confided in a friend.
The friend suggested he should visit his doctor to be prescribed more effective medication. Fortunately, Bill's doctor was aware of the dangers of ignoring persistent heartburn and sent him to Dr Praful Patel at Southampton General Hospital who looked down his throat with a long, thin, flexible camera called an endoscope. He diagnosed “Barrett's Oesophagus”. The tube that carries food from his throat to his stomach had been damaged by the frequent splashing by acid that we know as heartburn.
In January 2011, he was told his Barrett's showed signs that it could develop into cancer but that there was a new treatment available that could prevent that. The bad news was he had to wait until the hospital could borrow a machine to treat him and that he would probably need two or three sessions.
Meanwhile, unaware of Bill's plight, the newly formed regional support group, Barrett's Wessex, had been raising the tens of thousands of pounds required to buy the machine (called a Radio Frequency Ablator) for the hospital. The good news for Bill is they were able to present it to the hospital in May 2011, just in time for him to receive the beneficial treatment to prevent him developing the cancer.
In December 2011, Bill had his last session with the machine and is now completely cured with minimal risk of contracting oesophageal cancer.
Bill's life-saving team from left to right: Jackie Cleary (treasurer of Barrett's Wessex), nurses Iva Ivanov and Jill Groves, Gastrointestinal Advanced Nurse Practitioner Shirley James and Gastroenterology consultants, Drs Phil Boger and Praful Patel with the RFA machine.
“Thanks to the Barrett's Wessex, my life has been saved.” says Bill.