Gary's Journey



Whilst on holiday during August 2008, Gary had been experiencing facial pain in his right cheek. On his return from holiday he visited his dentist for x-rays with further investigations taking place at the Maxillo Facial Department at Northampton General Hospital. The weeks passed and with the pain increasing an MRI head and neck scan was arranged for the 22nd October, an appointment Gary attended before leaving to watch his beloved Chelsea play Roma in a Champions League home game.


Even though Gary was still experiencing facial pain he continued to watch Chelsea play home and away (his last away game being against Manchester United and his final home game being against Stoke City in January 2009) and was determined to carry out his new role as a Sales Engineer for his new employers which involved travelling to Holland in November 2008.


On the 3rd December the results of the MRI scan revealed “nothing unusual” which put Gary in a great frame of mind as later that day he travelled to Birmingham with his family to watch a Coldplay concert.  We will never forget that evening as just like a match day he would start the chanting, which carried on all around the arena. 



As Christmas approached the continuation of intense facial pain and the loss of Gary’s voice, led to Gary being informed by a duty doctor that he possibly had laryngitis. He was advised that if there was no improvement within three weeks he should return to the surgery and he would be referred to the Ear Nose and Throat Department at Northampton General Hospital.


After visiting the Ear Nose and Throat Department on the 10th February 2009, Gary was referred for a head and neck CT scan as there appeared to be a right vocal cord palsy. The scan results revealed that there was a mass in the right supraclavicular region measuring 3.7cm x 3.4cm which was encasing the right carotid artery with poor flow and completely occluding the right internal jugular vein.


The results of a biopsy on the 27th February 2009 confirmed that the mass was a secondary tumour and further tests would have to be carried out to ascertain the location of the primary site as no primary tumour had been identified.

Within 48hours Gary was referred to the Glenfield Hospital in Leicester for a lung x-ray to determine whether the primary tumour was located in the lungs. However this wasn't the case therefore a PET scan and an admission to Knightley Ward at Northampton General Hospital for a further biopsy to be taken was arranged, as it was still not apparent where the primary tumour was located. Unfortunately despite the above tests being carried out there was no further indication of where the primary tumour was.


As a result of only being able to identify a secondary tumour, Gary was treated as a head and neck patient. Throughout the following months Gary was admitted to Talbot Butler Ward on many occasions where he received four chemotherapy regimes, a blood transfusion and care after surgery.  After completing 6 weeks of radiotherapy in addition to chemotherapy, Gary remained on the ward for a further three weeks during late August/September after developing Neutropenia.


On his return to Talbot Butler Ward on 12th October 2009, Gary was informed that his cancer was incurable as brain metastases had developed.  At the end of October Gary received a week of radiotherapy to the brain, before taking a holiday with his family to Weymouth.


When Gary returned from Weymouth he visited the Royal Marsden Hospital where he received a second opinion on the treatments that he had already received and any further treatment that should be undertaken.


Gary then met with his Consultant at the end of November, who informed him that a further regime of chemotherapy would take place weekly over four weeks. This was a chemotherapy plan which had been decided based on Gary’s quality of life and the time he had left to spend with his family.  Unfortunately Gary was unable to complete the regime as he developed breathing problems.


Gary often spoke about his cancer and the journey ahead of him. Irrespective of the outcome he had expressed that the staff of Talbot Butler Ward should be recognised for the care, support, and dedication that had been shown to him during his illness. 


On 11th January 2010 after being admitted to Talbot Butler Ward for the final time Gary was asked whether he would like to return home or go to a hospice. After asking whether Gary could go to Danetre Hospital as he did not wish to spend his last days at home, he was transferred the next day to Cawthorne Ward.


The welcome received from the staff on the ward and the comfortable surroundings instantly made Gary feel settled. The facilities available enabled many family members to be with Gary during his last hours. In addition to this the support given by the dedicated staff, not only to Gary, but all family members will never be forgotten.


To show our appreciation to the two wards that cared for Gary during his illness a cheque for £1263.00 was presented to Talbot Ward and a cheque for £1100.00 presented to Cawthorne Ward which represented donations received from family and friends.   


After the donations were made to the two wards it was decided to take the fundraising further and to create The Gary Barton Memorial Trust.


The trust has been created in order to raise money to provide and assist in the provision of facilities, support services and equipment for both wards.   





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