When I researched Macmillan, I realised that they help us so much. I thought, ‘I want to be a part of this’, no matter how great or how small.
When I was first off sick, I needed the time off to just recover. But then I wanted to start doing something to help out. So I went to the local Macmillan centre and just asked them how I could help.
It turned out that, because I’m able to just take things in my stride and look at things objectively, I was able to help a lot of other patients who came in. And that led to me leading a few support groups, even though I was a recovering patient myself.
It definitely helps that I’ve been through it myself. I saw a lot of different people in my ward, and I saw different sides to people. People who just broke down and couldn’t handle it. Then people who just wouldn’t let anyone else help them. And people who came into Macmillan who just needed a bit of extra help to understand that things can be easier.
Volunteering is definitely a worthwhile cause. Personally, I got quite a lot out of it because it helped me realise that not only am I in a good position to help other people, even though I was virtually in the same position, but I actually enjoyed it. I enjoyed any way I could make someone’s life a little bit easier or a little bit better.
It’s a very open environment to come into, and quite often we did nothing except just talk to each other about how we were and what our plans were, what we were going to do at the weekend, what we’ve watched on TV. More than anything, it’s just to help people get a bit more comfortable.
People were definitely struggling to find someone to talk to – cancer affects people from so many different backgrounds and areas that I spoke to people from all walks of life, all with a variety of different problems.
I think it’s easier for some people to talk to somebody who isn’t family or a friend. It helps a lot of people when they separate aspects of their lives – so they can talk quite openly with someone in a way they wouldn’t be able to with someone they know quite well.
I realised that, even though I’m in this position, I’ve still got something to offer other people who may be a little bit worse off and struggling a little bit more with certain aspects that I’ve managed to get control of.
What started off as something just to pass the time while I was recovering, ended up being something that I really really enjoyed. As much as I was helping other people, I realised I was actually helping myself as well.