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Car crash saved my life says 73-year-old lung cancer patient

By WBCraig  |  Posted: December 09, 2013


Peter Telling discovered he had cancer after a car accident

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A GRANDFATHER-OF-SIX says a car crash saved his life after hospital treatment led to the discovery of cancer – which was swiftly treated with a groundbreaking piece of kit.

Peter Telling was involved in a car crash in February, when his car was written off after a collision with a van.

At the emergency department of Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro, an x-ray showed the 73-year-old had not only broken his sternum, but that he had shadow on his lung.

“It was a shock because I had had no symptoms,” said Mr Telling.

“There was no weight loss, no cough, no shortness of breath and I used to go for long walks every day. I had once smoked but not for 30 years.”

During treatment, the retired policeman became the first lung cancer patient to use the Royal Cornwall Hospital Trust’s (RCHT) new TrueBeam Linear Accelerator – or Linac.

The technology allows doctors to deliver radiotherapy with unparalleled speed and accuracy.

RCHT has invested heavily in Linac, in collaboration with the Sunrise Appeal, which means that patients in Cornwall can access world class radiotherapy treatment without having to leave the county.

Toby Talbot, clinical oncology consultant, said: “What has been different in Peter’s case is the new radiotherapy machine, the TrueBeam linear accelerator.

“This machine allows extremely accurate delivery of treatment meaning we can be absolutely sure where the radiation is going.

“This is unprecedented accuracy and means the areas we treat can be smaller, side effects are less and success rates higher.”

Peter finished his treatment in June and after a follow-up has been told that so far things are looking good and the cancer has shrunk considerably.

Mr Telling’s wife, Wendy, said: “It was the best accident we have ever had.

“My cousin told Peter that when he is better he should have a party and invite the van driver to thank him.”

Mr Talbot said: “Peter was indeed lucky to have his lung cancer picked up at a stage where potentially curative treatment could be given.

“The majority of lung cancer patients have progressed too far by the time they seek treatment.

“Peter had already passed the point where surgery was possible but he could still be treated with radiotherapy.”

Mr Telling, who has two children and six grandchildren, said: “I feel quite well and fortunately we have been told my cancer is the slow growing kind which is good.

“I feel very fortunate and I am just so grateful.”

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