Artist Laurie Peacock has presented The James Cook University Hospital with a unique painting following his life-saving cancer treatment.
Laurie of Billingham is one of many patients to benefit from a state-of-the-art treatment called stereotactic ablative body radiotherapy (SABR).
September signalled the fifth anniversary of the Middlesbrough hospital’s SABR service – one of the first to be introduced in the UK, and now one of the most advanced. SABR delivers very high doses of radiation to tumours in the chest with millimetre precision.
By maximising the dose to the tumour, the risk of damaging surrounding normal tissues is minimised, increasing cure rates, reducing side effects and cutting treatment times.
Laurie, 81, was diagnosed with two tumours – one on his lung and another on his gullet – when wife Pauline managed to persuade him to go and see his GP about a persistent cough. “I was told that if I didn’t have treatment then I would not be here next year,” said Laurie.
“They said surgery would leave me out of action for up to six months and the only alternative was to try and treat the tumours using chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“I was introduced to oncologist Dr Nick Wadd at James Cook who said he thought they could do something for me. He told me it was not going to be easy but he talked me though what would happen and gave me confidence.”
Laurie had SABR to treat his lung tumour followed by chemo-radiotherapy (radiotherapy and two courses of chemotherapy) on his gullet.
“The chemotherapy really knocked me. I used to go into my studio and just sit in front of the canvas, I just couldn’t focus,” said Laurie, who studied at the Royal College of Art and has seen his work exhibited worldwide.
“But I can’t praise the staff enough. They were always cheerful and I never felt as if I did not want to see them even when I felt really poorly.”
As a thank you to all the staff who treated him Laurie has donated a painting entitled The North York Moors in Winter to the oncology and radiotherapy team.
“I feel great now and very fortunate,” said Laurie who is now in remission and glad to be back painting again. “You have got to believe the treatment you are getting is the best and I think it is – the staff at James Cook were all wonderful.”
Clinical director for oncology and radiotherapy, Dr Nick Wadd said: “We are extremely grateful to Laurie for donating this artwork which will now be displayed in the Endeavour Unit for everyone to enjoy.”
Clinical lead for the SABR programme, Dr Clive Peedell, added: “SABR is an exciting new field in radiotherapy. “We can now deliver extremely high doses of radiation to tumours in the chest with very high precision so side effects are minimal.
“It is typically delivered in three to five treatments compared to the 20-30 treatments of conventional radiotherapy.”
At present, SABR is only used to treat early lung cancers and solitary secondary brain tumours in patients who are not suitable to undergo a major operation. As the technique develops it may also be used to treat localised tumours in the liver, kidney, bones and prostate.