The 81-year-old survived cancer 25 years ago, a heart attack 10 years ago, and has spent the past six years being treated for glaucoma, cataracts and macular degeneration – all under the care of Auckland City Hospital.

Throughout my 25 years of treatment, the people at Auckland City Hospital have been brilliant and caring.

“I can’t speak of them any higher, then or now,” Alan says of the teams at Auckland City Hospital.  “Going back 25 years, when I was treated by the hospital’s regional cancer service, the people were brilliant and caring.  I was 57 years old when I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

“I immediately underwent surgery, followed by radiotherapy and chemotherapy for six months, so I was at Auckland City Hospital five days a week in the early stages of my radiotherapy.  It was scary, but the care I received was absolutely marvellous.”

Auckland City Hospital’s Regional Cancer Centre provides cancer care for 1.5 million people in greater Auckland.  It treats all patients in the Northern Region and is the region’s only public provider of radiation therapy (radiotherapy).

Fast-forward 15 years, Alan was back at Auckland City Hospital, this time undergoing a quadruple bypass and aortic valve replacement.

“I remember it was a weekend and I thought I had indigestion, but a couple of days later I wasn’t feeling happy about it, so I saw my GP.  Following a blood test I was whisked straight the Coronary Care Unit (CCU) at Auckland City Hospital.  I couldn’t believe I’d had a heart attack, which most likely happened when I was asleep.  They immediately gave me blood-thinning injections and I stayed in the CCU for 10 days.”

Alan was operated on by cardiothoracic surgeon David Haydock, who performed his quadruple bypass and replaced his aortic valve.  While Alan’s surgery was in 2009, Mr Haydock still cares for the hospital’s patients today, and he has also performed an aortic valve replacement twice on Alan’s niece.

“Mr Haydock is incredible and my cardiologists looked after me so well, bringing everything forward when I needed it, and ensuring I was operated on straight away.  I still see my cardiologist Dr Alexei Chataline every two years, so it’s reassuring to know I’m being monitored and the valve will be replaced if needed.”

Auckland City Hospital provides cardiovascular services for the greater Northern Region, including surgeries and intensive care. It also delivers the National Heart and Lung Transplant Service, caring for all New Zealanders before, during and after a transplant.

Since 2013, Alan has also been an Eye Clinic outpatient at Auckland City Hospital’s associated site, Greenlane Clinical Centre.  Alan, who has worn glasses since he was a child, was referred to the Eye Clinic following a regular eye health check at the Optometry Department at University of Auckland Medical School.

“It came as a shock to be diagnosed with all three conditions – cataracts, glaucoma and macular degeneration – but my experience with the Eye Clinic couldn’t be any better.  Everyone is great and always so helpful.  I am especially thankful to Consultant Dr David Squirrell, Clinical Nurse Specialist Olga Brochner, Nurse Practitioner Carol Slight, and the lovely Zhen who administers the eye injections.  Because of all my issues, I once had three appointments in one day, and they made it so easy for me.”

Alan’s macular degeneration means he has regular injections in his eye, sometimes as often as once a month, but the nurse specialists always ensure it is fast and painless.  “I was nervous at first, but I don’t even feel it, they do such a great job.

“Things are stable at the moment, but I do eye exercises at home, and have to let the team know if I notice any changes.  It’s reassuring to know I’m being so closely monitored and support is always there.  Without the team’s care, I simply wouldn’t have the vision or independence I enjoy today.”

What is Alan’s secret to overcoming so much?  Alan believes you have to look after your own health and take responsibility for your body. He has always trusted his intuition to get second opinions and followed his gut if something hasn’t felt right, which ultimately led him to the life-saving care he received at Auckland City Hospital.

“I’ve always just known if something isn’t right.  I’m so glad I stuck to my guns and had a colonoscopy 25 years ago and I’m so grateful for the treatment and support I’ve received across every Auckland City Hospital department and site.”