'I owe my life to RBH centre'
Published: 11 Feb 2012 08:00
Reading borough councillor Jamie Chowdhary says he "owes his life" to the Royal Berkshire Hospital's Berkshire Cancer Centre and this week pledged to back our Accelerator Appeal to raise £100,000 for a pioneering radiotherapy machine.
The Peppard ward Tory councillor's voice welled up with emotion when he told the Chronicle: "If it wasn't for the centre, I wouldn't be here telling the tale. The staff there are angels, they do an exemplary job under pressure and I will do anything to support them - I owe my life to them."
Oncologists told the 54-year-old father-of-five he had less than eight months to live when they discovered tumours in his bowel and liver in April 2010.
Royal Berks surgeons removed his small bowel, but liver specialists at North Hampshire Hospital warned the liver tumours were too close to major arteries for safe surgery.
Cllr Chowdhary, who runs a telecommunications business but will not be standing in May's election after being de-selected by the Tories, added: "It's very traumatic. You realise how important your family is to you and you worry about putting your house in order before you go. I have young children and I was thinking 'what's going to happen to them?'"
But a gruelling six month period of chemotherapy in June 2010 weakened the tumours enough for surgery and he was given the all-clear a year later after a final six month chemotherapy course.
He branded the side effects of chemotherapy - such as hair-loss, severe fatigue and flu-like symptoms - as "devastating" and stressed the importance of investing in new technology to ease patients' ordeals. He added: "Now they have fine tuned radiotherapy the side-effects are limited compared to the damage of chemotherapy, especially for the elderly who are already so fragile.
"Cancer treatment is developing all the time and we must keep up to date with it. It's a wonderful appeal and I urge people to support it."