Jim – shares his personal story of Cancer Support Scotland

People are at the heart of Cancer Support Scotland. We’re keen to support as many people as possible. Jim came to us for counselling and we asked him a few questions about how talking therapy after a cancer diagnosis made a difference. Read on to hear Jim’s honest story.

Tell us a little (or as much as you like) about you.

My name is Jim Stewart, age 59 and I have successfully led my own sales agency business for over 16 years working throughout the UK for major brands.

Prior to that I was in various long term posts as Sales & Marketing Director in plc’s and sme’s for a wide range of products and services including retail, construction and digital media.

What is your experience of cancer?

It was a shocking surprise to me to be diagnosed with Stage 3 Bowel Cancer at only aged 56 after a late summer 2016 holiday in Spain. Despite faithfully doing the bi-annual “poo tests”- all returning negative-  my cancer was at a critical stage. I was fit – regular mountain biker and did not have this on my radar at all. Having lost my Father when he was age 57 to stomach cancer – my early days were very alarming. Lot’s of “what’s and if’s?”.

The Colorectal team at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital were professional and caring from the start and it was a very quick process from initial diagnosis to my first re-section. The Stoma (which I had for almost 7 months) was also a challenging period as it took a few weeks to properly settle. 4 months of chemo at the Beatson with home pump and Picc line got me into a routine of journeying but also made me reflect a lot. I was still a business owner after all and it was now all “on hold”! The Chemo took its toll with various issues – BUT- the Beatson Oncology and Pharmacy were able to sort all! Sometimes I would go home on the train with an NHS branded poly bag full of potions and pills!! To get the call of an early August 2017 operation to reverse the stoma was really positive – and it thankfully all went to plan. I was fixed but it was only a few months later that my busy reflective mind and thoughts caught up with me. “what on earth just happened to me?”. My Colorectal nurse suggested I attend an Open Day at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital which allowed patients and family members understand more about bowel cancer. That’s the day I was introduced to Cancer Support Scotland who had an exhibition stand in the foyer.

Tell us about the services received from our charity and the difference it made

Initially I just arrived at the Reception in the Campus at Gartnavel. That was immediately calming – what a peaceful and attractive building. The cup of tea and initial chat with a volunteer then allowed me be registered for Consultancy. It’s funny that at the outset I was self-convinced that “I didn’t need the complementary therapies” – oh yes I did! I trusted the staff and my 1-2-1 Counsellor as well as the highly trained and so friendly Therapists. I was in the right place.

  • 5 x sessions 1-2-1 Counsellor
  • Stress Management Workshop (5 weeks)
  • 1 x  session Reiki

What your experience was?

Loved all of it!

Being like an escape oasis and time out – although it really was time focused on getting me help get my head around what happened to me in 2017 but , more importantly, what my new future would be living with Cancer. That’s been the real positive experience.

How you felt afterwards?

The late summer of 2018, following the services of Cancer Support Scotland, allowed me to confidently start re-fashioning my future life. Doing different things – ambitions of time past now being enacted. I decided and was able to stop work. I was only 2 years in to a new marriage when diagnosed – so my forward ambition is to invest in the special friendship with my wife (who was a great carer to me).

I renewed my “geekish” interest in Clyde River Steamers again, joined the University of the Third Age , learning Spanish (each week with homework!), studying murals and buildings in Glasgow City Centre, helping form a local Cancer Support Group for a chat and coffee and of course now aiming to give back in some way to Cancer Support Scotland.

Have you got a story to tell?

Next year is an important year for our charity as we will commemorate 40 years supporting people affected by cancer. If you have a memory you can share please get in touch with sarah.shannon@cancersupportscotland.org

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