David Long is 69 and lives in Southampton. In July 2018 he was diagnosed with mesothelioma. He recently tested positive for coronavirus and wanted to share his experience…
Following his mesothelioma diagnosis, David took part in a clinical trial which went well for around 10 months until David experienced a severe reaction to it and had to come off it.
David then tried privately funded immunotherapy in November 2019 which worked to stabilize the cancer but not reduce it. In January 2020 David tried a different type of chemotherapy but again, had to stop due to a bad reaction to it.
David was on no treatment, just pain relief, when, in mid-March he began to feel unwell with high blood pressure and a cough.
He went to hospital and was tested for coronavirus but was told it was negative. Three days later he still felt unwell and went back to hospital. This time, the coronavirus test came back positive.
David and his wife Jo were shocked and frightened by this news. His consultant had already warned them that if David was to get coronavirus, it would be very serious for him and so they had already been self-isolating for a number of weeks. Understandably, David admits that he panicked a little and thought ‘This is it, this could be the end.’
David was sent home and told to isolate – even from each other – within the home. This wasn’t easy and the couple had to have separate bedrooms and one ate meals in the conservatory while the other ate in the lounge.
During this time David wasn’t feeling too unwell. He had a cough, some breathlessness and had very low energy levels but wasn’t in any pain – from the virus or from mesothelioma.
David was able to call his Mesothelioma UK clinical nurse specialist, Helen Wilkes, at any time if he had any questions or concerns. As part of his medical team, Helen was made aware that David had coronavirus and called to check on him three times a week.
David says the support from Helen was fantastic and that she has been there for him from the beginning, always available to answer questions and very helpful.
After three weeks of isolating from each other, David called the NHS 111 helpline and described how he was feeling. He was advised that the virus had passed and that they didn’t have to distance themselves from each other anymore – but to continue isolating as everyone else is.
For now, David’s mesothelioma treatment is on hold. He is feeling quite well, just some breathlessness remains. He will have a telephone appointment with his consultant in May.
David’s advice to mesothelioma patients who are worried about coronavirus is to follow the shielding advice and isolate as much as possible. He also wants to remind people that, even if you do contract coronavirus, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will end up in intensive care, or even in hospital. David has made it through coronavirus and is determined to keep fighting against his mesothelioma too.