Roger is 74 and lives alone in a housing association flat. He was diagnosed with cancer of the larynx and then skin cancer. Below is an account of Roger’s story in his own words.
It was scary. It was on my vocal chords. Because of what I do, to start losing my voice was pretty scary. I was recording an album, I’d done one track when I found out. This made me think “I’ve got to record as many tracks as I can” because I thought I was going to lose my voice completely. I said to myself “do as many as you can before you peg out”.
The treatment was very good. When I was first diagnosed I had laser treatment, then I had to have radiotherapy. The people were very nice and helpful, but it was scary. It was very strange, but you do get used to it. That was a scary time when I first went for radiotherapy. I managed to get through it by singing songs in my head. Because you have it every day it’s the side effects that are a problem. I had trouble swallowing. I was very sore. My check-ups were clear, though. I’m just lucky really.
Then I started noticing warts on my hands. I went to see someone. They took a sample. Luckily it turned out not to be anything to worry about, but I have to have treatment.
“Without advocacy I would have had a lot of problems … with everyday things like when I had no hot water.”
Before you get ill you don’t know what you are going to need. It’s a scary thing when you live on your own. Little things get to you. It’s a helpless feeling. Without advocacy I would have had a lot of problems, not with the treatment I was getting but with everyday things like when I had no hot water. Judith my first volunteer advocate got the hot water sorted for me. You see, the cancer affected my voice. So that made it harder for me to keep phoning people and asking for the things I needed, especially when you have to keep phoning over and over, I just couldn’t do it.
“It was a bit hard to hear when I got the diagnosis so I was glad Dave was with me.”
I had lived here without heating for about 15 years, but after getting ill I needed heating. I was feeling the cold. I just had one small plug-in heater. It wasn’t enough to keep the place warm and it cost so much to run it. Sam (Macmillan-Impetus Cancer Advocacy Service Manager) first visited at the end of October and she did really good. She straight away got me another heater to plug in (kindly provided and delivered by Age UK Brighton & Hove). Dave, my 2nd volunteer advocate, is very sympathetic. He kept pressure on the housing association about the heating and they finally got central heating installed. When I went to get samples taken on my hands Dave came along. It was a bit hard to hear when I got the diagnosis so I was glad Dave was with me.
The advocacy support is wonderful, it’s having someone on your side. I’m really grateful for the help I’ve had. It’s nice to know someone is on your case and you can get help. In this technological age, you can’t get through to anyone on the phone. You can get information but it’s really difficult to use it. Dave’s there, and if I need to sort something out I can contact him. That’s the most important thing. You can have a laugh as well which is important. I found it incredibly helpful. They (the Cancer Advocacy service) should get a medal.
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