Feature Medicine and the Media

“I am positive but not irrational”

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.i5975 (Published 09 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5975
  1. Jacqui Wise, freelance journalist, Kent, UK
  1. jacquiyoung1{at}gmail.com

Journalist and cancer patient Steve Hewlett has quickly become an honest and frank chronicler of the highs, lows, and occasional injustice of NHS treatment. Jacqui Wise spoke to him about his decision to go public

Over the past few weeks the BBC journalist Steve Hewlett has talked in a refreshingly open way on Radio 4’s PM programme about his diagnosis with stage 4 oesophageal cancer. In the series of interviews with presenter Eddie Mair (www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p03m4q5s/episodes/downloads), and in a cancer diary for the Observer newspaper,1 he is articulate, down to earth, and often funny about his ongoing treatment at London’s Royal Marsden Hospital.

Hewlett, host of Radio 4’s The Media Show, had oesophageal cancer diagnosed in March and was told his cancer was too advanced for surgery. The first line chemotherapy initially worked well in reducing the cancer and metastases in the liver and lymph nodes but stopped working after seven cycles. He went on to have a series of 12 high dose radiotherapy treatments aimed at controlling the main tumour and preventing it from further restricting the oesophagus.

As a journalist, Hewlett’s first instinct was to fully research his disease and possible treatment options. His doctor had told him about a …

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