Being diagnosed with cancer twice in one year hit Gary and his family hard. He had to retire and found himself worrying about finances, while at the same time having chemotherapy. But through it all, he’s been supported by Patricia, his Macmillan nurse.
Gary says, ‘When I was first diagnosed, I sat there nodding my head, as if I was taking it all in, but all I could hear was “cancer, cancer, cancer.” It wasn’t until I left the consultant’s room that the enormity of it hit me.
‘Patricia was also in the room and we sat down afterwards to talk – she’s been there for me ever since. If I have any questions about my treatment or feel a bit alone, I know I can get in touch with her.’
Gary adds, ‘Money worries have been a particularly big concern. However, a Macmillan benefits adviser visited me when I was having chemo and helped me claim the benefits I was entitled to. Receiving that support at a very difficult time took away a lot of stress.’
To give something back, Gary has since helped Macmillan lobby the Northern Ireland Assembly as a Cancer Voice. He says, ‘Macmillan has been like a safety net for me and it’s one way I can return the support.’