SHE was faced with a 20 per cent chance of survival following her cancer diagnosis last summer and had even planned her own funeral.
But mum of two Dr Sarah Baker has described herself as ‘walking miracle’ after doctors were unable to find any evidence of cancer after she responded unpredictably well to chemotherapy and then surgery.
The 55-year-old, of Michigan Place, Chapelford, said: “I have not heard of a reaction like that as a medic. All of my friends find it hard to believe. I am absolutely convinced that the power of prayer has had a massive amount to do with it.
“I feel like I’m a walking miracle. As far as I’m concerned I’m now going to make the most of the time I have got.”
Sarah’s life was changed indefinitely when she was diagnosed with stage III adenocarcinoma of the oesophagus on June 20, 2013.
As she battled to beat cancer, Sarah wrote a moving account in a blog, which was read by her friends, family and complete strangers.
In her posts, Sarah, who is a pioneer minister for Chapelford, was candid about every step of the journey and her views on the care of the NHS.
But following the good news they had been praying for, the former chief clinical officer for Warrington CCG, who retired earlier this year, is now trying to put the past year behind her.
“I have good days and I have bad days. Considering where I could be I’m extremely well. But there are some side effects from the surgery which make some days really quite difficult,” she said.
“It’s just over a year since my diagnosis. I’m here and I’m well and I can’t ask for more. You have to live in the moment and hold on to every moment because they are precious.
“Everybody deals with it differently but I couldn’t have dealt with it any other way than staying positive as I don’t see how you could get through it otherwise.”
Sarah, who will step up to her new role as team rector for Warrington West on October 5, has shared some of her most personal and honest entries from the blog with the Warrington Guardian.
To read Sarah’s blog in full visit sarahbakercouk.tumblr.com.
On what matters:
It’s the little things that count – people smiling, looking you in your eye. That’s what I learned after I was diagnosed with cancer with 20 per cent survival rate. That big, shiny hospitals do not necessarily equate to good care. And that good nursing care is not about just following processes and completing paperwork.
On being an insider looking in from the outside:
I also learned that we are incredibly lucky to have the health service we have got. I know we don’t get it right all the time. But I was proud of the services we commission for Warrington. And I was proud of the NHS.
On the NHS from a new perspective:
My second round of chemotherapy at Clatterbridge gave me special cause for reflection. Of the four people in my bay, I was the only one having a curative course, everyone else was palliative. Yet, there was laughter and lots of advice about how to deal with the indignities and general inconveniences that undergoing chemo brings. My initial thoughts on my test and treatment were: We do serious stuff really well in the NHS.
My first poor experience of the NHS came with an appointment with my surgeon. We found the doctor was busy elsewhere he had been double booked to do a paediatric clinic – we were not seen until two and a half hours after the appointment time. A long time waiting to know your future.
On news they had been waiting for:
They put it down to an exceptional response to chemotherapy. I have a different perspective, I totally believe I have been healed.
However God’s goodness has been mediated through the skill and expertise of the oncologists, chemo nurses, specialist cancer nurses, surgeons, theatre team, ward nurses, admin, GP, dieticians and community nurses for me at different stages.
I had thought the news of the cancer being cleared would mean that life would go back to what it was before. I should have known better. We can never go back, life is not a circle but a spiral, even if we head back in the same direction we will be on a different level. It took me a while to accept that I was really not right for me to go back to my day job in the NHS.
On her journey ahead:
I will be very surprised if I get to 60. I have no idea why the cancer came and no idea where it went. So there’s nothing to say it won’t come again tomorrow. If it does, there’s no other treatments, that’s it.