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Dupuytren’s Patient
GenesisCare, Birmingham

“In the months following the end of my second phase, things have been getting better and better”

In late 2014, Mary noticed that a lump had appeared in the palm of her right hand. By the end of December the lump was causing her a lot more concern. The lump was becoming much tenderer to the touch and she was having problems doing day-to-day activities around the house. This is her story.

In Autumn 2014, I noticed that a lump had appeared on my right hand. It occasionally ached, but I dismissed it as a minor niggle that would fix itself in time. By the end of December things had gotten worse. The lump was very tender when it came into contact with anything and I had real problems doing day-to-day activities around the house. Even then I thought that maybe I’d overdone it digging in my allotment and if I just rested it for a while it would clear up.

By Spring things were much worse and no matter what I did I couldn’t stop the pain in my hand, it had gotten to the point where it always felt hot and uncomfortable. It was around that time that I started looking on the internet to find out what was going on and whether anyone else had been through the same thing. It didn’t take me long to discover that I had Dupuytren’s disease.

In May, I made an appointment and went to see my GP in Coventry who confirmed that I was in the early stages of Dupuytren’s disease, but he also told me that he could do nothing for me until my fingers started to contract and even then the only treatment he could offer was a surgical one. By then I could no longer hyperextend my fingers and I had a couple of cords that ran from the palm of my hand to my ring and little fingers, but no contracture. My GP told me that if my job depended on my hands then I could move a little further up the list of people that needed treatment, but as that didn’t apply to me he couldn’t offer me any help until things got worse. Needless to say, I left that consultation feeling pretty depressed.

By this time I could no longer cycle – something my husband and I love to do together – and working on the allotment was getting harder and harder on my hands. Driving was also becoming more difficult, which was a real problem. I couldn’t drive for more than half an hour without my hand really hurting.

My amazing husband saw how much pain I was in and started doing some research on the internet for treatments that were available for early-stage Dupuytren’s disease and that’s when he discovered Dr Shaffer’s website. I read a couple of the case studies and found that these people had gone through a very similar situation to me when they first had symptoms appear. I called Sue (Dr Shaffer’s secretary) straight away and made an appointment to go and see Dr Shaffer.

I read up about radiotherapy for Dupuytren’s disease before I came to the consultation with Dr Shaffer – It was great to talk to Dr Shaffer and feel like there was hope for me yet! In all honesty it was a very quick consultation, but I was convinced by the end that radiotherapy was right for me because;

  1. The side effects are usually minimal, if at all
  2. The radiotherapy is painless
  3. The success rate at keeping straight fingers straight is high

So Dr Shaffer booked me in for two phases of radiotherapy treatment at GenesisCare, Birmingham centre in August.

When I got to the centre for “Phase 1” I thought the facilities were fantastic. The radiographers were extremely lovely, helpful and kind. They explained everything that was going to happen from when I got into the room to when I came out again and the whole treatment took less than 5 minutes. I was really impressed!

It may have been my wishful thinking, but after my first treatment I felt an immediate change to the lump and cords on my hand. They stopped feeling hot, they loosened up and most importantly they weren’t hurting as much. The improvement was amazing! Things continued to improve in the lead up to my second phase of treatment.

During my “Phase 2” of treatment in October, the lumps and cords remained at the level they had been reduced to after “Phase 1”, but after the end of that second phase, there was definitely a slight improvement. And in the months following the end of my second phase, things have been getting better and better – I had a follow-up appointment with Dr Shaffer in January and things have gotten slightly better even since then.

It’s gotten to the point where, most of the time, I’m not even aware of it. I can still feel it after I’ve been driving for more than an hour or so, but it’s so much better than it used to be. It’s incredible! I still have lumps on the palm of my hand, but they are much smaller than before the treatment began and they are certainly not as sensitive. The skin where I had my treatment is a little coarser, but you wouldn’t notice the difference unless I pointed it out.

More importantly, I can go cycling with my husband again! I can still feel it a little, but it can’t take a great experience away from me anymore and not having to constantly worry about whether my hands will hurt if I do this, or hurt if I do that, is worth its weight in gold.

*Please note that results may vary for different people.