When a Surrey student was told she had a 12cm tumour growing on her liver that needed to be removed her first thought was her impending wedding.
Beyza Ucar was determined to walk down the aisle as she tied the knot with fiancé, Edward, but was concerned that a major operation just eight weeks before her big day could scupper her plans.
Thanks to robotic surgeons at Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust the 33-year-old not only managed to walk down the aisle, she also danced and ate without pain or discomfort.
Beyza is one of the 200 patients, who has successfully received robotic assisted hepatobiliary surgery, since the service became available for this patient group last year.
“I didn’t know how I would be after surgery, but I knew I wanted to be able to wear my wedding dress, which was surprisingly heavy, and walk down the aisle unaided,” said the Surrey University PHD student.
“I actually hesitated about having the surgery because I was fearful of a major operation, but my surgeon and the wonderful team were so reassuring.
“They were so confident in the robotic procedure and how quickly I would recover that they promised that I would walk in my wedding dress and they were not wrong.”
Beyza met fellow academic Edward in March 2020 when he agreed to proof read a journal article that she was writing.
Love soon blossomed online as they realised that they enjoyed talking to each other and shared many interests.
Their courtship was initially carried out online as the global pandemic kept them apart before they finally met in person in August 2021.
Edward proposed on top of Glastonbury Tor with his beloved grandmother’s ring just six months later in February 2022.
“It was a very romantic proposal,” Beyza said.
“It was a cold and windy day and I was quite grumpy climbing to the top.
“I was unaware of the surprise that was waiting for me, but Edward supported me all the way.
“When we got to the top he knelt down and held my hand and told me how much he loved me.”
Just months later the couple’s world was rocked when Beyza, who had already beaten thyroid cancer, learned she had a mass growing rapidly on her liver.
Beyza said: “Ed and I were so sure about our love that we did not want to wait to get married.
“We just knew we wanted to spend the rest of our lives together.
“I was feeling quite ill because of the tumour and thanks to help from Edward’s wonderful Mum we managed to organise everything from the dress to the venue very quickly.
“I just needed to get the surgery out of the way and I feel very fortunate that my team had access to these amazing robots.”
Royal Surrey is one of the only single site NHS Trusts in the UK to have four cutting edge robots, with three dedicated to performing surgery and one to help with training.
The state-of-the art machines allow surgeons to use a control console to manoeuvre the robots' arms, whilst using a minimally invasive approach, also known as keyhole surgery.
As a result, patients benefit from a shorter hospital stay, quicker recovery, reduced blood loss and discomfort post-surgery.
Tim Pencavel, Consultant Surgeon, said: “Feedback from our patients once they have gone home after a robotic procedure has been really positive.
“The robots make it possible for us to carry out complex operations via very tiny incisions with greater accuracy and control.
“This means patients are days ahead in their recovery compared to those who have had traditional surgery as they do not have the trauma of a large incision to their abdomen.
“Our patients have told us that they are able walk, eat and come off pain relief in three to four days.”
The average length of stay in hospital nationally after liver surgery is seven days, but thanks to the robotic approach, surgeons at the Trust based in Guildford, Surrey, have cut it to just two days.
Just 10 days after her surgery Beyza was able to walk 5,000 steps daily and a month after the procedure comfortably spent a few hours on her feet during a museum trip.
Eight weeks after the surgery she got married and was completely pain free.
The academic, who for years has also suffered with nausea, sickness and reflux after eating, which she had always blamed on an overly sensitive stomach, found these symptoms had improved.
Surgeons believe the benign tumour had been growing for years and the discomfort after eating was caused by pressure from the growth on her stomach.
Royal Surrey is planning a new Surgical Innovation Centre and is investing £25million in the project, with further funds being sought through fundraising.
The centre will ensure the latest treatments and technology are available in Guildford. To find out more, visit: https://www.royalsurreycharity.org.uk/appeal/surgerycancerappeal.