A man from Stockton has said taking part in research trial at a health trust has saved his life – after it led to a bowel cancer diagnosis.
Terry Lowes says the close monitoring he was under as part of research work at North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust led to a large tumour being found.
Terry, who is 64 and lives in Hartburn, was first treated at the trust several years ago after suffering a heart attack.
After being treated for three weeks at the University Hospital of North Tees, he was discharged and then invited to take part in a cardiology research trial.
Terry, a grandfather of three, explained: “When staff asked if I wanted to take part in research, they said I would be very well looked after and monitored closely. Being involved is sometimes an advantage because you have checks which those who aren’t on the trial wouldn’t have.
“I had been on the trial for a few months and had been routinely having blood tests taken as part of this which I wouldn’t normally have had, as I’d experienced no bleeding or symptoms at all.
“It was after the results of one of these tests came back that the research team said they weren’t happy with them.
“I was sent for x-rays and an ultrasound and they couldn’t see anything untoward. I was then sent for a full body scan and that’s when they found a massive growth on my bowel.
“Soon after, I was booked in for surgery and had the tumour removed.
“I am sure that if I hadn’t been a research participant this tumour would not have been found and I may not be alive today.”
Terry, who has had chronic obstructive pulmonary disorder (COPD) for many years, has also benefitted in other ways from research.
He regularly attends respiratory focus groups where he can discuss his health with other people with similar issues and take part in exercises to help with his breathing and inhaler techniques.
He is also involved in keep fit activities which the trust holds and he volunteers to be involved in staff training.
Research nurse Claire Irish said: “Terry is absolutely convinced that without being involved in the cardiology trial he wouldn’t be here today.
“It’s fantastic to see how much he has benefitted from working with the research team. We have been able to help him with his COPD and see his health improve.”
Research and development manager Jane Greenaway said: “I met Terry at one of our focus group meetings and was really moved by his story.
“It’s thanks to people like Terry who agree to take part in research trials that we are able to learn more and to improve the care we provide to our patients.”
Professor Stephen Robson, Clinical Director,NIHRCRNNENC said: "Research is vital for patients like Terry and for the future of the NHS. Medicine has come a long way over the last 70 years; these huge advances are because of medical research. The NHS will continue to adapt and change over the next 70 years and research is crucial to help us understand how to keep people healthy and to care for those who develop problems."