First of all, I’d like to say that at one time I would never have envisaged that I’d be able to talk about myself and my diagnosis so openly.But when I was first referred to Christie’s after being diagnosed with stage 4 bowel cancer it did help me to read about those in a similar situation, and I’m hoping that my story can inspire and help others.

I’d like to say that my treatment throughout has been amazing. Whether at the Christie, at Tameside Hospital or here at Willow Wood, I couldn’t have had better care and support if I’d been royalty.

However, when I was first referred to Willow Wood for physiotherapy back in October 2017 my muscles had wasted away; I was in a wheelchair, able only to walk a few steps. Brid, the physio here, worked so hard with me, manipulating my limbs and giving me exercises to do at home and over the next few months she got me back on my feet. Emma, who I saw when I first came, persuaded me to have some complementary therapies, Reiki and reflexology, but they weren’t for me. In fact, I only said I’d give them a go to shut her up!

As I said, I’d been given 12 months, and when that came and went, and the signs were that my treatment was working I found that really difficult. I suppose I’d prepared myself for the worst and just couldn’t get my head round the fact that I might have a future. Willow Wood helped again, both my wife and I had a number of counselling sessions – she’s a nurse, and her dad died of liver cancer, so we thought we knew what to expect. To feel so much better, to be alive and able to get out and about, it just confounded all our expectations.

And there have been so many milestones in the last couple of years. In March 2018 my son was awarded the Gold Duke of Edinburgh Award, and I was able to accompany him to St James’ Palace, where he received his award from Prince Edward. I never thought I’d be back in a position to be able to do something like that – I’m not ashamed to admit that I cried, so proud of him and his achievements, and to be able to go to the Palace and see him get the award was just out of this world. It’s a real memory to treasure.

I’ve been coming to the Men’s Support Group here. I do honestly find it to be very helpful, even though I can only attend every other one – I’m still having treatment at Christie’s, and the appointments clash. The guys there don’t pussyfoot around, they say it like it is. We all talk very openly about what’s happening, and it’s good to be able to confront it head on, with people who really understand. It is a very positive atmosphere here, and I’d recommend it to anyone. None of us know what’s round the corner, but I’d say to anyone – don’t be frightened of Willow Wood, take advantage of everything they have to offer. They can help.

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