HEALTH: ‘A steak pie supper saved my life,’ says cancer patient

Patient. Image credit - The Scottish Sun

William Dunnachie, 69, was a patient at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre.

By Liam Clifden

A PATIENT has told of how a bout of food poisoning following a dodgy steak pie led to a rare kidney cancer diagnosis and a place on a clinical drugs trial.

William Dunnachie, 69, was one of the patients at Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre (BWoSCC) taking part in the clinical trial for Pembrolizumab, a specially designed immune-stimulating drug which helps minimise the chances of kidney cancer recurring.

This week, thanks to volunteers like William, the drug has now been officially approved for use by the SMC and up to 100 people in Scotland will benefit each year.

William’s kidney cancer diagnosis was only identified after he was admitted to Forth Valley hospital with suspected food poisoning from a steak pie supper from a takeaway.

As surgeons performed emergency surgery on his gallbladder – which can react to certain high-fat and processed foods – eagle-eyed consultants spotted abnormalities on William’s kidney.

Following a referral, William, who lives with wife Beth, was quickly operated on at the QEUH, and both the gallbladder and kidney was removed. After surgery, William jumped at the opportunity to be admitted to the Keynote-564 trial, which involved a 12-month course of drug designed to prevent the recurrence of kidney cancer.

Led by Dr Balaji Venugopal, Consultant in Medical Oncology and Honorary Clinical Senior Lecturer, at the Beatson West of Scotland Cancer Centre Glasgow, William was closely monitored, and now, nearly five years later, remains cancer free.

Thrilled to have been part of the trial which has led to the drug being approved for use in Scotland, William said:  “I just feel extremely lucky. If I hadn’t bought that steak pie, I might not be here today. You could say it helped save my life. But the team at The Beatson have been fantastic throughout my experience, and I was delighted to be able to give something back by participating in the trial.

“Now it’s been approved, it’s humbling to know it will help potentially thousands of people in the future.”

Dr Balaji Venugopal said:  “Many patients who have a cancerous kidney removed at surgery will be cured, but, in some, the cancer will recur, and it may spread to other parts of the body. The Keynote 564 trial has shown that patients who receive an immune-stimulating drug called pembrolizumab for a year after surgery have a significantly lower risk of recurrence. This is the first time an immune-stimulating drug has been shown to do this.

“A team of dedicated patients and staff at The Beatson took part in this trial, which was conducted all over the world, and the results of the trial are promising for our patients. It is exciting to note that Scottish Medicines Consortium (SMC) has now approved pembrolizumab to be available to all patients in this situation in NHS Scotland.”

For retired labourer, William, the removal of the cancerous kidney and participation in the programme has given him a new lease of life.

He said:  “I’m just here to enjoy myself now, and take everything day by day. While I’m thankful the cancer was spotted thanks to a steak pie, I’m not sure I’ll be eating anymore any time soon.”

Image credit: The Scottish Sun

Leave a Reply