Wednesday 11 Aug 2021
Maggie's West London
Diagnosed at 65, Mike’s first thought was to not seek treatment. Conversations at the centre helped Mike realise that there was a way forward. Three years on, he’s fit, healthy and happy – and a key part of the community at Maggie’s West London.
Maggie’s was very busy the first day I found it. As I walked through the door there was something about the atmosphere that just made me feel more relaxed.
My first impression was the warmth and homely feel. That is something that you don’t write down at the time, it is just something that you feel.
When I first met Sinead, the Centre Head at Maggie’s West London, it was one week after my diagnosis. The date is very clear in my mind. It proved to be a very influential moment in my life. Actually, it saved my life!
I had arrived at Maggie’s that first day feeling that I had just fallen off a hospital conveyor belt of examinations, blood tests, scans, diagnostics and consultations.
I had been given lots of booklets and information sheets. The NHS is a well-oiled machine. The staff are professional and very knowledgeable. They are very experienced.
But, and this is the big but, it is all very clinical and impersonal.
My diagnosis was prostate cancer. It was aggressive, but we had caught it relatively early.
I had been lucky: the cancer was localised, which meant it was treatable and curable.
I had two treatment options – surgery or radiotherapy with hormone therapy. I had four to six weeks to make my decision.
But when I first came into Maggie’s, I had it in mind that I was not going to proceed with treatment at all.
Even though I’d been presented with two options, I felt there was a third: doing nothing.
I am quite a reasoned and logical person, but there was no kind of logic to that thinking at all.
I was befuddled, to be honest with you. But it was my choice – not to do anything.
My plan was to sell up and go travelling around the world and seek a bit of adventure.
Sinead suggested I sit in around the kitchen table, and get to know other people with a similar diagnosis.
The first guy I spoke to was actually on a par with me in terms of age, diagnosis, treatment options – and he was only five years further down the line than I was.
There’s no substitute for experience, and I had so many questions for him. I learnt so much from him.
I was also encouraged to speak to Tara. At the time, Tara was a Cancer Support Specialist at the centre, she’s now the Centre Head at Maggie's Swansea.
She was able to sit down and spend time going through my papers with me, and to reiterate that mine was an aggressive cancer that required treatment.
She was able to listen to me, which helped me hugely, and lay out in more detail how my treatment would work.
As far as the radiotherapy was concerned, well I had this vision of Goldfinger, with Bond stretched out under a laser beam. She really helped put me at ease.
Talking to Sinead, Tara and the people here during those three weeks changed my opinion of what I was going to do. It changed my decision-making.
Looking back on it now, I can say that coming to Maggie’s saved my life.
That four to -six week period changed my mind from feeling I didn’t want to go ahead, to getting on with treatment. It saved my life, I’m telling you.
Now, I find myself coming back to the centre a lot – talking to people at the table, or helping out where I can.
I’m open to sharing my experience with people in any way it can help.
Coming to Maggie’s has given me a whole set of skills in talking to people and listening.
And come to think of it, my GP’s advice to visit Maggie’s was the best advice I’ve ever received.
To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.
Stay up to date with our news and fundraising by signing up for our newsletter.Sign up