Thom on chemotherapy

After a shock diagnosis and emergency surgery for colon cancer, 27-year-old Thom had nearly six months of chemotherapy. 

Macmillan’s Mustard Tree Centre, directly above his chemotherapy unit, was his ‘little bit of heaven’.

Thom's story

Alongside the support from my family in the first instance, the support from Macmillan was second to none. I started chemo six weeks after my surgery and during such a life-changing experience, this support is so necessary.

The chemotherapy had a big effect: I didn't lose my hair but it attacked my nervous system so I lost a lot of feeling in my hands and feet. And I lost a lot of taste in my mouth.

The process is unlike anything you've been through.

I was having chemo for nearly six months and it makes you feel pretty rubbish and it kind of builds up as well. So it gets worse towards the end. I was vomiting a lot in my last courses.

I can't tell you how relieved I was after it was over.

I'd learned that fruit pastilles take the horrible metal flavour out of your mouth, which is one of the strange side effects. I'd learned that if I kept my arm warm then it dilated the veins enough, otherwise my arm felt like it was being rubbed in stinging nettles. I'd learned enough about the kindness of the people that are there administering the treatment.

The Mustard Tree Centre in Plymouth is directly above the chemo ward. Once every two weeks I would have an appointment to see the consultant as well as having my chemo treatment. There were often delays waiting for my chemo and the prospect of spending time in the waiting room was a depressing thought for a 27-year-old. Instead, I would go up to the Mustard Tree. It's a non-hospital environment with sofas and magazines and staff who remember your name and really make you feel at home.

Watch: all about Thom's experiences

Watch: all about Thom's experiences