I was only 30 when I was diagnosed with Greyzone Lymphoma in 2016, a rare type of blood cancer. As a young professional working in London, I though I had everything planned for the future but my diagnosis meant that my life was completely put on hold. I underwent various rounds of chemotherapy and pioneering drug trials which took their toll on me both physically and mentally. Losing my hair everywhere was the worst thing. To look in the mirror and see someone you don’t recognise and looking so ill is frightening. For me, I found having cancer very isolating, so when I went to the Look Good Feel Better Men’s group workshop it was good to speak to other men going through the same as me and helped me at a very difficult time. Thankfully in 2018 I was given the good news that I had beaten this terrible disease.
I found out about the Look Good Feel Better workshop through my oncology nurse. I signed up not knowing what to expect but I can honestly say it was the most beneficial support service I accessed during my treatment. As a young guy who has always been socially confident, the workshop was the first time since my diagnosis that I felt totally comfortable talking about my cancer and asking questions to others who could relate and understand the challenges I had been facing.
The skills and confidence I regained after attending the workshop have had a lasting effect on me, particularly once my treatment finished and life started to return to ‘normal’. After attending the Look Good Feel Better workshop I wanted to reach out and help others. I have spoken publicly about my experience with the charity at various events and although my treatment has now finished, I continue to champion this fantastic charity which takes such care over both your physical and mental wellbeing.
Whilst going through treatment I learnt that, aside from the support provided by the medical team, there is very little in terms of holistic support for men with cancer, and Look Good Feel Better are one of the very few charities attempting to fill this void. I found cancer incredibly isolating and this had a significant impact on my mental health and confidence. I know that all of the feelings of fear, anxiety and isolation felt by cancer patients are exaggerated ten-fold due to Covid-19 and I was therefore thrilled to see Look Good Feel Better swiftly move their services online, ensuring their advice and support continues to be available for men, all from the safety of their own homes. Without services like those offered by Look Good Feel Better the mental health impact of cancer can be truly devastating on a person during and beyond treatment. My hope for the future is that all men diagnosed with cancer, will have access to the support provided by Look Good Feel Better, both online and face-to-face, and that many more will be able to face their cancer journey with confidence.
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