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Cancer: 73-year-old ‘couldn’t believe’ when cold-like symptoms were Hodgkin lymphoma

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The Birmingham resident had suffered with hearing loss since his 60s, primarily due to his early career as an aircraft mechanic, and already had hearing aids fitted. So when his symptoms continued to worsen he made the call to his nearest Specsavers, in Harborne. He was seen by Sandeep Khatkar, the audiology director at the store.

The former incident reporting manager for Heartlands Hospital recalled what happened.

He said: “I’d been to see my GP and had put the symptoms down to a virus or infection.

“But I had a niggling doubt about it and then when the issues became worse and my hearing became blocked I simply thought I can’t go on with this.”

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When Sandeep saw Terry and carried out a full hearing examination – it quickly became obvious that all wasn’t as it should be as his hearing was “seriously impaired”.

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“Sandeep explained the results of my test, showing me where my hearing ‘should’ be and where it actually was,” Terry added.

“She said I need to speak with the hospital and get an appointment as soon as possible.”

He visited the ENT department at the Queen Elizabeth hospital in Birmingham where the consultant agreed that the hearing results did indicate some concern.

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A week later he returned for a biopsy, which revealed the devastating news that Terry was suffering from Hodgkin lymphoma, an “uncommon” form of cancer.

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He said: “As I walked into the room I knew it wasn’t good news. But the positive elements to take from the outcome was that there was treatment available.”

Terry underwent an operation on his throat followed by 12 sessions of radiotherapy.

“One of the worst side effects were the mouth ulcers – not just inside my mouth, but inside my nose and on my lips too,” he added.

Three months later Terry returned to the hospital for scans and blood tests and awaited news of his progress. Fortunately, it was a positive response. He was in remission.

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“I couldn’t believe it,” Terry said. “Of course I’m under regular review, but I feel so lucky that I’ve been given a chance.

“I’m extremely grateful to Sandeep and the team at Specsavers and the staff at the QE for their care. Without them I may not be here today.”

Sandeep commented: “We’re so very pleased to hear that Mr Roberts is in remission.

“Cases like his are extremely rare – but it does help to demonstrate the importance of not putting off any niggling health issues. If you’re in any doubt seek advice from a professional.”

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According to the NHS, Hodgkin lymphoma develops in the lymphatic system, which is a network of vessels and glands spread throughout your body.

“In Hodgkin lymphoma, B-lymphocytes (a particular type of lymphocyte) start to multiply in an abnormal way and begin to collect in certain parts of the lymphatic system, such as the lymph nodes (glands),” it explains.

Symptoms of Hodgkin lymphoma can include:

  • A swelling in the neck, armpit or groin
  • Night sweats
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • A high temperature (fever)
  • A persistent cough or feeling of breathlessness
  • Persistent itching of the skin all over the body
  • Fatigue.


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