Cancer survivor enjoying life's big adventure

Sadie Windmill
Sadie Windmill
Lymphocytic Leukaemia
Husband's corporate private medical insurance

She has a name that sounds like she should be the heroine in an adventure novel – and Sadie Windmill certainly has an amazing story to tell.

The 44-year-old former assistant head-teacher has spent the past 18 months aboard a yacht with her husband Jules and her two dogs sailing around France, Spain and Morocco to name just a few. Not bad considering just over two years ago she was diagnosed with cancer and underwent an intensive course of chemotherapy at Birmingham’s BMI Priory Hospital.

She first went to her doctor with a swollen neck which was diagnosed as mumps. The problem persisted and after a consultant backed up the doctor’s opinion she decided to use the Private Medical Insurance provided by her husband’s employers to see Head and Neck Surgeon Mr John Watkinson at BMI Priory.

Sadie Windmill
He immediately ordered tests and the next day diagnosed Sadie with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia. Sadie was stunned: "Having never been really ill in my life it was such a shocker, and took a while to accept it all. We knew I would need intensive treatment and Mr Watkinson advised me to see Consultant Haemato-Oncologist Dr Premini Mahendra – or Prem - as she soon became known to us."

"Life became a whirlwind of operations, tubes, needles and hospital appointments. I had six chemotherapy treatments in six months, I won’t lie, it was tough but we were determined to remain positive throughout."

"Once treatment started it actually felt so much better because things were actually happening instead of us just waiting around."

"At the end of the first cycle the lumps were no longer visible to the eye. I was also very proactive, exercising, getting out in the fresh air, meditating and changing my diet completely. We even walked the Pennine Way and climbed Snowdon in between treatments." "Prem encouraged me all the way, she really did become a friend as much as a doctor, I can’t thank her enough for what she has done for me."

I would never wish to have had cancer, but without it I would never be leading such a fulfilled, adventurous life.

And things certainly did improve. The three month tests showed all tumours were gone and three months later Prem announced that Sadie was now in full remission. That’s when Sadie and Jules made their life-changing decision to see the world.

"First we sailed to the Scillies and the Channel Isles and then to France, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco and Portugal, We spent Christmas Eve in Gibraltar, Christmas Day in Spain and New Year in Morocco," she explained.

"Every day is different, we drop anchor, catch fish, go kayaking, swim off the back of the boat, have BBQ's and walk the dogs."

But the couple still keep in regular touch with Prem, returning for tests every six months full of stories about their latest adventures.

"Whilst many patients may not require any treatment initially, when treatment is required, as in Sadie’s case, it means intensive chemotherapy over a six-month period. Sadie’s positive attitude helped her enormously and she coped with the treatment extremely well. It is fantastic to hear from them and see that she is doing so well."

Sadie’s positive outlook is admirable, she says: "If I had never had cancer, I would never have been brave enough to do what we are doing now. We love the way of life we now lead with lots of sun, relaxation and a Mediterranean diet. With Wi-Fi and Skype we probably see more of family than ever before. I would never wish to have had cancer, but without it I would never be leading such a fulfilled, adventurous life."

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