Richard's story

"It was when I was sitting down," Richard casts his mind back to the summer of 2022, when he first became aware that something wasn’t quite right. "There wasn’t any pain exactly, it was more discomfort."

At first, he didn’t think much of the aching in his groin, and carried on his daily tasks as usual, assuming it was a muscle strain that would right itself. However, as the discomfort persisted, Richard decided he should get it checked out.

"I went to see an orthopaedic consultant. He said it could be my hamstring, but suggested a scan anyway, as a precaution."

When Richard went back to the consultant for the results, however, it turned out to be much more serious than a strained tendon. 

"There was a silence in the room," Richard remembers. "I could tell this wasn’t going to go the way I’d been expecting it to. And then he said, 'Look, we've had the scan, there's a lump… actually a couple of lumps…"

Richard’s mind started racing. "As soon as he said, 'there's a couple', I started thinking, 'Oh Christ, this sounds like cancer, and it's probably spread." I drove home barely able to gather my thoughts. How do I tell my partner? We had two young girls, what would their lives be like without a father?

A reassuring approach

The consultant recommended that Richard see Mr Pollock.

"Mr Pollock was reassuring, you know?" Richard says, smiling. "He’s very interpersonal, with almost a degree of informality in his approach. He's technical, clearly knowledgeable, and has a reassuring confidence about him, but at regular intervals he’ll pause, wait for you to catch a breath, give you time to gather your thoughts, allow you to ask a question, and then explain it."

Mr Pollock had diagnosed an epithelioid sarcoma – a rare, soft-tissue cancer that is, typically, very aggressive. Time was key. "Mr Pollock said we should move swiftly and that’s exactly what happened," says Richard, looking back through his calendar. "He linked me up with a respected oncologist. I had an MRI, CT, biopsy, PET scan – all in the space of less than a month… about three weeks, actually."

First of all, Richard had five weeks of radiotherapy to control the spread of the tumour. Wanting to give himself the very best chance, Richard opted to make some lifestyle choices, including cutting out sugar and alcohol.

"Physically and mentally, I felt amazing," he explains. "I previously ran twice a week. Now I was walking, which was less strenuous, perhaps 12km to and from each session, but I felt terrific for it. There were side-effects from the radiotherapy towards the end, but overall I hadn't felt in such good health in years!"

A few weeks later, it was time for the operation to remove his tumour. 

Feeling amazing

"That was a positive experience," Richard says, thinking back to the procedure, despite the fact it was both long and complex. "Mr Pollock removed the tumour within 100x80x60mm of muscle from my lower left buttock, but he also removed a lesion in the right-hand-side of my groin beforehand. The operation was nothing if not thorough, and the margins proved good."

"He used different tools because he wanted to eliminate any possibility of transferring cells across," explains Richard. “I suspect some surgeons might have bailed on the initial task," he continues. "The lesion was abnormal, but not obviously cancerous, and getting access to it was complex, but Mr Pollock worked patiently with his team for two hours to do so.” Mr Pollock even snipped off a small skin-tag at Richard’s request.

Richard after surgery Richard after surgery

The results were immediate and far-reaching. "The morning after the surgery I could hop on one leg – I probably shouldn't have, but all things considered, I was feeling amazing," Richard laughs.

However, the story doesn’t end there. A few weeks later, Richard was to see Mr Pollock again. "I had an infection," he shrugs with impressive stoicism. "It happens…"

"Quite suddenly one morning, I developed a fever, and became-semi-delirious," he says, almost matter-of-factly. "My partner drove me to our local NHS hospital, by which point cellulitis had set in and I was admitted by the emergency staff. Given the complexity and history of my wound, the team there were soon liaising with Mr Pollock – over the weekend – to get me back into his care.

"What struck me most was the respect and high regard shown to Mr Pollock. In the first couple of days, I recall being surrounded by four medical professionals, who were nattering away at my bedside and hearing one of them suggest that he could try to get hold of the surgeon. 'Mr Pollock is one of the best surgeons in the city,' came the registrar’s terse response. 'I’ll reach out to him directly'."

An optimistic outlook

From Richard’s perspective, in the orthopaedic world, it appeared that everyone with an ounce of experience knew who Mr Pollock was. "It made me realise how lucky I was to be in his hands," said Richard. "Mr Pollock has clearly got a knowledge and expertise that's quite rare."

Mr Pollock kept Richard calm and at ease throughout, and gave him a full overview of what his recovery journey would look like before he departed.
"Before he discharged me a second time, Mr Pollock mentioned he was about to go on a family skiing trip. I set myself the same goal, and am happy to say I have plans to follow in his footsteps – or rather ski trails – in the coming months."

Now six months down the line, Richard has had a post-surgery MRI scan, and the results are encouraging. "Mr Pollock explained there are no traces of the tumour, no traces of it having spread," he says, a smile breaking out. Now he has some distance between the diagnosis and where he is now, how does he feel about the whole episode? 

"In truth, the infection, and having to tend to a large open wound, was the biggest hurdle for me," Richard says, thinking back. "The wound took four-and-a-half months to close, but I’m now getting back to my former self. I’ve even ordered a treadmill."

Before that? "The week-and-a-half before seeing Mr Pollock was the only time I felt down, or in a dark place," he pauses for a second, as a wide smile breaks out across his face. "It’s funny. The time I first saw Mr Pollock coincided with seeing daylight, being able to reset and embrace a more optimistic outlook. He's… he’s fantastic. I am incredibly lucky that I was seen by and operated on by him. Mr Pollock is an incredible surgeon. I can’t thank him enough and I’ll forever be in his debt."

Get in touch

To book your consultation with Mr Pollock, you can phone  0207 908 3606 or fill out our appointment form

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