Gary on diagnosis

Gary sits in the hospital with his Macmillan nurse
Gary sits in the hospital with his Macmillan nurse

Gary was diagnosed with both leukaemia and kidney cancer within the space of two years. 

Having lost his own father to cancer, Gary found it tough telling his children about his diagnosis.

Gary's story

I was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukaemia in February 2008. The cancer was identified following routine blood tests before a spinal surgery. My first reaction was of shock, followed quickly by false bravado which masked a severe depression. I’ve since discovered that this is common in newly-diagnosed cancer patients. Around Christmas 2008 I began passing a lot of blood in my urine and had considerable pain in my right side. But I put it down to a kidney stone. When this was investigated it was discovered (2009) that I had a tumour in my right kidney (transitional cell carcinoma) and needed an urgent Nephro-ureterectomy (removal of kidney, ureter and bladder cuff). 

Unfortunately, with TCC there is very likely that it’ll return in the bladder or remaining kidney. However, I have an excellent Macmillan urology nurse specialist (Patricia Thompson at Ulster Hospital, Belfast) and I am screened regularly (including the highly unpleasant flexible cystoscopy!) to keep an eye on things.  

I suppose I have settled down towards a more accepting state of mind regarding both cancers. The leukaemia is incurable but my last haematology check-up indicated that it is still progressing slowly though steadily. For me the worst part was having to tell my children. I lost my father to cancer when I was twelve and will never forget the feeling of desolation and horror I experienced when he told me the bad news. 

There are days when I am so tired I wonder if it’s worth going on. But I'm stubborn and a wide streak of black humour gets me through. On the positive side I've met some wonderful, caring and inspirational people along the way.


Watch: all about Gary's experiences

Watch: all about Gary's experiences