Kaddy Benyon is a poet and former television scriptwriter. She lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children. In November 2020, she began her journey as a patient at The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital when she discovered a lump. Here is her story…
“In November last year, getting changed on the riverbank after my daily swim, I noticed a small lump in my left thigh. At first I thought it was a bite or a bump, but it wasn't itchy and it didn't hurt. When it hadn’t gone down after a few weeks, I went to my GP who was concerned enough to refer me for a scan. Two days before Christmas, I had an ultrasound which quickly led to an MRI and then to a CT scan and I was referred to The Royal Orthopaedic Hospital (ROH) for a biopsy which came back inconclusive; the only option was to have surgery to remove my mysterious guest.
“On 24 February 2021, I was admitted to Ward 4 at the height of the most deadly wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. I was a long way from home and unable to have visitors for the duration of my week-long stay. It was a frightening time but would have been more so had I not been cared for by such compassionate, intuitive, playful and encouraging NHS staff.
"I would like to say a great big ‘THANK YOU!’ to every single member of Ward 4 staff who checked my leg, monitored my blood pressure, oxygen levels, sugar levels, who injected me as painlessly as possible, who helped me to the loo, who washed me, fed me, filled and refilled my water jug (sorry, thirsty gal), cleaned my room, changed my sheets, told me about the weather, who smiled at the photo of my children by my bed, gave me morphine, who showed me how to self-inject an anticoagulant into my tummy, who encouraged me out of bed when I couldn’t bend my leg, and who helped me access the Wi-Fi so I could Zoom home. I am especially grateful to the nurse who caught me when I fainted the first time I stood up, and to the crash team who burst in as though we were in an episode of Casualty!
“Once I was well enough to make the journey back to Cambridge, I was greeted by my husband, kids, cats, cards and curry. I made a speedy recovery at home, mostly I think because I was so desperate to get back in that river of mine! I have swum almost daily throughout adulthood, mostly in my local pool. Around six years ago, a friend invited me to swim with her in the river from a small, unassuming club in Newnham she was a member of. I fell hard for swimming in nature, so I joined too. For the first five years, I only swam on the hottest days of summer, often taking my children for play swims. But as the virus began to take hold again last autumn, I felt I couldn’t face another indefinite period without pool swimming, so along with some of the women I had met at the riverbank club (now affectionately known as The Swim Sisters), we decided to see whether we could swim through winter in the river. I was certain I wouldn’t be able to tolerate water any cooler than 17 degrees, but buoyed by companionship and adventure, all of us kept turning up day after dark, rainy day - my own coldest swim being 2.5 degrees on the day I had to start isolating before surgery.
“By March I was able to hobble along the riverbank on my crutches and to watch (and envy) my swimming sisters. At my check-up in April, I was a gazillion miles beyond relieved to learn that the tumour had been benign. And two weeks after that, thanks to my physio, my acupuncturist and of course my cheerleading swimming sisters, I was finally able to get back in the river and resume my daily swims.
“I now have a cracking 8" scar along my left thigh and a permanent disfigurement, having lost two thirds of one of my quadriceps. I have also had to learn to walk again, to drive, to ride my bike, and of course to swim. Sometimes I need to go slowly as I am liable to cramp in the part of the muscle I still have when I overuse it.
“On Sunday 26 September, some of my swim sisters and I will attempt to swim the 2k stretch of the River Cam between The Orchard at Grantchester and Sheep’s Green near Lammas Land. If you are local and would like to support us in person (or even if you’re not so local but fancy a day trip to Cambridge) please do come to either the start point, the end point, or any of the riverbank along Grantchester Meadows and cheer us along, you’ll be able to spot us by our neon tow bags! We estimate being in the water for about an hour, and we will (hopefully) celebrate our achievement with coffee and cake for all at the finish. My lovely school friend and her partner, who run My Persian Kitchen in Cambridge, are very kindly donating two delicious Persian Love Cakes - they are not to be missed!”
Kaddy raised £1000 in her sponsored open water swim and has worked with the staff on ward 4 to develop a meaninful way to utilise the funds within the department. After much discussion with the ward team, Kaddy and Ward Manager - Yi Kessey, agreed that the funds will be supporting wellbeing facilities for staff on the ward.
These funds have enabled the department to receive revitalised break facilities on Ward 4 where she spent most of her inpatient stay. This included refreshment facilities, a new coffee machine and new smart TV for staff to utilise whilst on their break. We cannot thank Kaddy enough for her fundraising support and for sharing her story with the world.
To share your story or support ROH Charity in any way, contact us on 0121 685 4379 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Registered Charity Number: 1078046
Call: 0121 6854379