Paul on eating problems

Paul stands by the window in his kitchen smiling
Paul stands by the window in his kitchen smiling

After chemotherapy and radiotherapy to treat throat cancer, Paul was left unable to swallow, and relies on a PEG feeding tube.

Paul has set some tough challenges for his Macmillan dietitian, Cathryn – like deciding to travel, scuba dive and do the Great North Run.

Paul's story

Within four weeks [of diagnosis] I had a PEG feeding tube inserted in my stomach and started my first week of chemotherapy. A further three sessions were to follow, together with thirty-six daily radiotherapy sessions.

Life and energy levels did slowly return, but unfortunately my swallowing did not. An endoscopy in January 2007 confirmed three inches of strictures in my throat effectively blocking the way for any food or liquid.

I think a lot of people feel sorry for me because I can't eat. But, the way I look at it, I went to such a bad place, I'm just grateful to be alive and coming out the other side. If my disability is I can't eat, that's a small price to pay for living a full life.

I have had my PEG tube replaced with a low profile model that is more comfortable. I'm fed 1500 calories while I sleep, another 400 each at lunchtime and evening.

Cathryn even gave me training so I can change the PEG tube myself. I wanted to travel and felt it was important I knew what to do. And one of Cathryn's colleagues, a Macmillan nurse, showed my wife how to do an emergency tracheostomy.

I think initially cancer takes control away from you and you can feel very vulnerable. But eventually you've got to take back control.

Watch: all about Paul's experiences

Watch: all about Paul's experiences