Get it checked
I thought I had an insect bite on the back of my arm but for about eight months it kept growing, eventually to about the size of a 50 pence piece.
I just kept dismissing the bite but my wife, Helen, was insistent. She made me an appointment to see a doctor.
I just thought ‘the lump is not hurting me’, so I left it. I’m your typical truck driver, I just get on with things, but I don’t know where I’d be now if I hadn’t gone. I now know that if you find a lump, you need to get it checked out.
After my appointment I was immediately referred to The Cumberland Infirmary for a biopsy. My initial tests left the doctors stumped, so I was then sent on to the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle.
It was here that I was diagnosed with an extremely rare inflammatory myofibroblastic tumour – a growth that usually forms as an invisible lump inside of the body. It was so rare that there are actually only five recorded cases.
Now we had a diagnosis and knew what it was I was immediately referred for surgery and thankfully they were able to remove the lump. They used skin and some muscle from my back to repair the hole that was left behind.
I went to Maggie’s in Newcastle during my treatment. They were so welcoming and the people there were unbelievably good. When you're in hospital, everything is clincial. Then you walk into Maggie's, which is just next door and it's just so nice. You can collect your thoughts and relax.
We all know the impact cancer can have on people. Going through a rare cancer diagnosis, it's great to have somewhere to go where people understand.
It’s not just the emotional support. Maggie's gave us practical help and advice with things like filling in forms as well.
Whatever kind of cancer you have, Maggie's are there for you. If it wasn’t for the centre, people would have nowhere else to go.