Rob was diagnosed with High Grade Non-Hodgkin Lymphoma in October 2006 having been wrongly diagnosed with tooth infection in June 2006.
His tumour was high grade aggressive and therefore he was admitted immediately for chemotherapy treatment (R-Chop). The drugs included vincristine which can have a known side effect causing peripheral neuropathy.
Unfortunately, Rob was severely affected by this drug before it was removed from his course of treatment and following an initial course in 2007 of physio treatment under a specialist neuro physiotherapist, the treatment ended after 16 sessions with no follow-up from any NHS source. At that time Rob was still able to walk unaided although he had lost all sensation in his feet, legs and hands as the nerves had been killed by the vincristine. Rob was diagnosed with peripheral neuropathy.
He was still working as Contracts Director in our high specification timber frame building company until December 2009. At that time he could no longer climb a ladder because he could not feel his feet on the rungs, especially in coming back down it. As a former carpenter joiner, he could not use power tools as he could not physically control the use of them. Rob’s life had changed drastically.
By Christmas 2010 Rob was having great difficulty maintaining his balance and had several bad falls. On one occasion I had to call out the Fire Brigade to get him off the floor as I could no longer manage to do it myself. I purchased a strong walking frame and Rob managed to get round the house. He could no longer get upstairs to bed so he moved in to a ground floor bedroom with a shower room en-suite.
In July 2010, Rob had a really bad fall using the frame and from that time on had to use a wheelchair. We had a stairlift fitted and an upstairs bathroom converted to have a wheel-in shower installed. Rob was able to move back upstairs after a year!
From June 2007 until June 2013, in spite of trying all avenues to get specialist neuro physiotherapy help to no avail, I eventually managed to get a referral with the help of his NHL consultant at RCH Treliske and our own doctor to a new neuro physiotherapist based at Falmouth Hospital – and Rob was back on track!
I found Morgan’s Gym through a close friend of ours, asked our doctor if he could refer him there, took Rob there to see if he liked it which he did immediately as everyone was so helpful and friendly and Rob joined.
Since he has been at Morgan’s, together with his trainers, he has continued the exercises and the walking programme set up by the neuro physiotherapist with a heavy duty walking frame and is now able to walk 6 full lengths of the fitness suite.
For a strong well built man who holds a running record for 100 yards from the age of 11, has sailed all over the world, and has played rugby and been fit all his life, the change in life abilities has been highly dramatic. We hope that funding for the proposal for the new Challenge Centre & Inspiration will be achieved and that Cornwall will support this worthwhile cause.
Jill Harsant (Rob’s partner)
Tel: 01872 540259 and 07973 673378
Also Chairman of the Lymphoma Association Support Group in Cornwall based in Truro who meet every third Wednesday in the month at the Princess Alexandra Wing, RCHT at 6pm.