Several weeks I literally bumped into Florence Wilks at the front door of the surgery. Our eyes fixed on each other momentarily, my delay was quickly assessing how she was before I spoke, hers was to make a request.
I have known Florence for several years and she openly admitted to all around her as well as on at least one radio programme that she has suffered a late diagnosis of ovarian cancer and has had several relapses but rather than become overpowered with anger and resentment she has directed her energies into raising money and awareness to fund research and better education for women and doctors into ovarian cancer. Just a reminder about symptoms we should be aware of:-
The impact has been profound and I know on a personal level I felt empowered to educate patients, medical students, my peers as well as anyone reading my blog to make people aware of how to diagnose and manage this disease. My partner, Jane and I have been much more vigilant about potential signs and symptoms and insisting getting a good quality pelvic ultrasound and a well written report not satisfied with ‘ovary not well visualised’ and a test for tumour markers CA125.
I was pleased to be able to say “hello, you look great” and she then told me about the book she was compiling of poems, musings and stories in order to raise money for ovarian cancer. I started to tell her that I was sure I could find sometime to contribute but her eyes fixed on me and said that she wanted my contribution and the deadline was the end of October! I hadn’t written a poem for 50 yrs and then not easily! But she made it quite clear it was the contribution rather than the standard of writing – how could I refuse – she had fought cancer and she meant business!
I put if off wanting to believe I was too busy, hadn’t time, lost her email address but then I was struck down with a viral illness and too weak to do much but I did have time and I was thinking! Then that day I just put the words down on my iPad and realised I had written a poem. I sent it to my children and Jane hoping they would say, ‘good try, but…..’ They recognised it as a poem and I found Florence’s email and it whooshed away into cyberspace. Her reply was quick and she accepted my motivated endeavour.
MUSINGS OF A GP
I was asked to write a musing of a GP
My thoughts went blank somewhat a degree
Never wanted to be a GP, paediatrics was my desire,
But sometimes in life think about what we require.
A string of Jobs for General Practice took me to an interview
And I was accepted along with the chosen few.
Paediatrics, A&E, obstetrics, General Medicine and ENT
Also including 12 months as a GP trainee.
Fully qualified I returned to my paediatric dream
But overwhelmed with hospital bureaucracy decided to go back to the GP team.
Children are part of families, with parents, siblings, grannies and grandpas too
Patients in the cottage hospital and birthing unit, long stay hospital to visit and view
I wanted to be part of a community, providing a service to all ages with acute and chronic illnesses as well
I started as a GP in South Wales amongst hard grafting men
Chiselling out diamond coal, damaging their lungs again and again
I loved their humour, their ongoing rugby banter, their voices in full swing
Helping them get enough breath to get to the club, that was the important thing
I watched them live a life of courage, I watched them dying a death of suffering
I was part of a great primary care team who took an important part in everything
Patients and staff alike taught me how to care holistically and what empathy really meant
Children with cystic fibrosis and spina bifida who helped with ways to treat and prevent
The high prevalence in this place pioneered the vital research to lead to what we now see.
Now all women take folic acid in pregnancy and others benefit from stem cell therapy
I loved my work in the Llynfi valley even on those wet cold days and nights serving the people
The hours were long the work was tough but the great rewards there was nothing to equal
I had become part of a community, infact I was the news agent’s daughter now come back what better compliment than that!
Then the knight in white armour swept me off my feet to pastures new
I was married in London cheered on by the bus load from Llynfi too
Then after 3 children gradually returned to General Practice in Ealing
What a contrast, a culture shock for me but the new challenge was appealing
Lords and homeless , patients spanning the World from all occupations including the BBC,
Unimaginable varied diseases as well as patients from every trouble spot in the globe to see.
A high prevalence of severely mentally ill often neglected by primary care
But not forgetting those with the stresses of everyday life you have to be aware
Medical students, astounded by the amount of serious disease attend the surgery frequently
We care for diabetics, asthmatics, COPD and heart and stroke patients in the community.
We keenly look out for cancer patients to diagnose early and provide supportive care
Our team look after pregnant ladies and along with families and children’s welfare
I have now become part of this community and despite national low morale I am passionate about my work as an ordinary GP.
Florence is so enthusiastic about her fund raising activities and has such an overwhelming desire and grim determination to fight her disease. It is patients like her that inspire doctors to go that extra distance, to be keen to get to the root of a problem and find out what is the real cause and make it all worthwhile. Be part of the positive energy she exudes as it will only make your life richer and more purposeful.
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