WHEN John Hopkins started seeing blue, red and purple lights around the edge of his vision, his wife knew something wasn’t right.
The grandfather-of-one had always been fit and healthy but one sunny morning in June 2012 he found his vision was clouded with colourful flashes.
His wife, Irene, thought he might have had a stroke and took him to the doctor, who referred him for tests the very next day at the Western General Hospital.
It was there that doctors gave the couple the devastating news that John had a grade 4 glioblastoma brain tumour.
“He just sat up in bed and asked the doctor, ‘How much time have I got?’” said Irene, of Haddington.
John had received excellent care at the hospital but sadly died in September 2013 at the age of 68, surrounded by his family, including his three daughters. His wife has now nominated top neurologist Dr Robin Grant and his team at the Department of Clinical Neurosciences for a Health Hero award for their unwavering commitment and kindness during John’s illness.
Irene said: “The staff at the Western General were absolutely amazing. I don’t think he could have got better treatment.
“It was such a surprise to see the tumour when he was diagnosed, as you can see it on screen. I had no idea about what it meant.
“The staff were so good in talking it through.”
John had surgery to remove the tumour but doctors were not able to get rid of it all despite gruelling rounds of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Irene, 69, singled out a number of other staff members in the team for praise, including senior nurse Gill Harris and consultant neurosurgeon Patrick Statham.
She added: “I don’t know how they manage to do their job, I really don’t. They were amazing with my John and with the family.
“It wasn’t just us. There were so many people on the wards suffering and they were incredible with all of them.
“With brain tumours, sometimes it can be hard to find information you need. Well, at the Western General you can.”
The Evening News is searching for the unsung heroes of the health service, whether they are counsellors, doctors or porters working for NHS Lothian.
Dr Grant, who has worked as a consultant at the Western General for 25 years, said: “It’s very nice to be nominated and entirely unexpected.
“I think it’s very helpful and rewarding to get positive feedback from patients, especially when you are involved in management and care on a day to day basis.
“You can’t always give as much time as you would like and it is nice to know how people have got on afterwards.
“The area I am interested in is primary brain tumours, which is obviously a very worrying thing for patients to go through.
“You have to have difficult conversations and sometimes it is just management of symptoms. It’s nice to know you have helped people.”
Make your vote count
THE shortlist will be announced in early May, with winners revealed during a glittering awards ceremony to be held at the Edinburgh Corn Exchange on June 17.
To nominate your Health Hero, please e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0131 465 5645.
The deadline for entries is April 8.