My world collapsed when I was diagnosed with cancer – you never really think it will happen to you

I was 44 when I was diagnosed with a brain tumour. Living on the Isle of Wight, I had to travel to the mainland for my treatment every day for two months. It took a massive toll on my wife, Jess, and my two boys who were 10 and 12 at the time.

Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I went to the gym every day and had a physical job as a plumber. I was fit and always setting myself goals for the future.

I knew something was wrong when I started to feel nauseous, lost a lot of weight and experienced phantom smells. It was Christmas and I couldn’t get a face-to-face appointment with my GP, so I went to A&E. After tests, they diagnosed me with a brain tumour.

My whole world collapsed

You never really expect these things to happen to you. It was horrendous. I’d been so fit and strong. What had happened to me? Jess and I didn’t tell the boys until after I had the operation. They were so brave and gave me the strength to carry on. Because of the tumour and my treatment, I lost my peripheral vision and I can’t see anything at all out of my left eye. I couldn’t walk and lost my job. Jess became my full-time carer.  I had to accept that this was my new life.

Sceptical about support

I was really sceptical about how Wessex Cancer Support could help me, because at that time I could barely get off the sofa, but I agreed to meet with Phil, their wellbeing coordinator, and he explained all the ways the charity could support me.

He encouraged me to try Reiki. It’s a Japanese technique which aims to makes you feel less stressed and more relaxed, and it also promotes healing. It’s administered by ‘laying on hands’ and is based on the idea that an unseen life force energy flows through us and is what causes us to be alive. If our life force energy is low then we’re more likely to get sick or feel stress and if it’s high, we’re more capable of being happy and healthy.

I’ve never really thought of myself as a spiritual person, but I can honestly say it’s changed my life. Within a few weeks I felt like I could conquer mountains! As well as being able to walk again, I felt more in touch, more positive, happier. I started laughing again. In fact, it had a positive effect on the whole family and brought us closer together.

I feel so much better equipped to deal with what life throws at me

I had a scan recently and physically I’m stable, but mentally I’m in such a positive place because of the support I received. I still visit the Isle of Wight support centre and it feels like going to see family. I’m so glad I listened to Phil and Jess. I have hope and I feel like our lives have restarted. I don’t know what the future holds, but I feel so much better equipped to deal with what life throws at me.

Cancer can change everything

If you feel sceptical about accessing support, I get it. Before I got cancer, there’s no way I would have tried complementary therapies! But cancer can change everything, and it affects us all differently. It was daunting going into the support centre for the first time, but that feeling soon went.  Wessex Cancer Support will listen to you and then work with you to put together a package of support that best meets your needs. Because of their caring team, I’m so glad to be here and I’m looking forward to the future.

Has your life been affected by cancer? You are not alone.

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