John on coping with cancer with a learning disability

John standing in a garden wearing a purple t-shirt
John standing in a garden wearing a purple t-shirt

John, who has a learning disability, was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma in 2007.

He was supported by a Macmillan nurse and he used our easy read cancer information.

John's story

When John first became ill, the people around him didn’t understand what was wrong. He had several GP appointments, but none of them led to a diagnosis. He was only diagnosed after becoming very ill and ending up in hospital. He was treated with an operation and chemotherapy.

He says, 'The Macmillan nurse was one of the first people who came to see me when I was in hospital. She helped me get a new washing machine with a grant. She said to me "Give me six months and I’ll give you your life". I thought, yes, that will do.'

John was also supported by two volunteers, who he calls his angels. He believes the volunteers helped keep him alive during the most difficult period of his life. David, John’s colleague, says, 'A combination of being ill, having a learning disability and a lack of much-needed support meant that John’s life was unsettled.'

'John knew his house was in a state of disrepair, he had money worries and had just found out he had cancer. He felt scared and anxious about what this meant for him now and in the future.' The volunteers helped John to cope with treatment and recovery by getting different organisations and agencies involved. They arranged for him to move to a hospital closer to his mum, and made sure he was given opportunities to rest and recover. David says, 'They didn’t make decisions for John but they gave him information so he could make decisions.'

After some time in hospital, John was sent home and treated as an outpatient for further chemotherapy. He had some problems with recovering from treatment and preventing infection, but lots of support was put in place. John feels his story could have ended very differently if he hadn’t received so much help and support.

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