Phil on men's group and making friends

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Maggie's Cardiff

For Phil, there are few things better than the Men’s Group at Maggie’s. It’s where he can laugh, cry, and spend time with friends. Just don’t ask him what 'butty' means...

Maggie’s came into my life about three years ago when I was living in Nottinghamshire. My wife, who was very active, supportive and positive throughout, came across the centre, and told me they had a Men’s Group.

I’ve never been someone who’s afraid to talk and meet new people – so that’s exactly what I did.

I became an active member of the group. It was lovely being in the centre, we meet every two weeks and just speak about our lives.  

My cancer 

I’d been living with cancer for some time by that point. I was 58 when I started to notice problems with my bowel movements. A scan and an endoscopy later, I learned it was metastatic rectal cancer. At 59, I had an operation to remove a portion of my colon.  

After that surgery, I’d been having three years of monitoring, with check-ups and scans. At the end of the second year, I was told the cancer had moved to my lungs and grown nodules. There wasn’t anything the doctors could do – but they said they would monitor it. That’s when I knew I wouldn’t be able to ring the bell. 

In time we moved to Cardiff. I experienced problems with heart failure – at one point, I came very close to dying – and in 2018, my prostate decided to give up the game.

A new diagnosis

The new diagnosis was advanced prostate cancer, and came with news that the cancer had entered my bones.  

Worse still, the nodules in my lungs had grown, and I needed to have chemotherapy.  

I knew I was playing chess with cancer, moving the pieces around the court, and that my priority was to stay with the people I loved for as long as I could. My only fear was that I wouldn’t get to walk my youngest daughter down the aisle.  

At the start of lockdown, I had an appointment with my oncologist, where she told me they couldn’t do anything more for me. The nodules haven’t grown, but there are more of them – and I’ll receive regular monitoring and check-ups.  

Men's Group

When I knew I was going to have more treatment, I walked into the doors at Maggie’s Cardiff.

I became an active member of the weekly men’s group. It was great -  they had guest speakers who, more often than not, had nothing to do with cancer. It led to general conversations about all sorts of things. And we also formed a fluid style where we could break off into smaller groups if we needed to, and discuss things one-on-one.  

We're a bunch of guys who like to have a laugh - we all have one thing in common that’s major to us, but we can just talk about anything, and laugh together.

Having that forum helps. There’s a lot of guys I like and want to talk to, even if it is virtually. I’m an active virtual member, but it’s so much better in person and in the beautiful centre. Sam knows this, but I’m chomping at the bit to get back in the centre.  

I finally know the meaning of butty, as well. It’s a Welsh term that means friend, or good friend. A group member said it to me the other day, "Talk to you later, butty" and I said “What on earth does that mean, is that what you put bacon on?”. He explained and I laughed. Now we call each other our butties.  

Fundraising for Maggie's

We’ve also got involved in fundraising too – we sold cakes in between the two lockdowns, in a gazebo on the road by the centre, and I’ve raised money for Maggie’s by getting branded masks and baseball caps made. The caps in particular look really cool, and all proceeds will go to the centre. 

I’m at a point of acceptance now. Looking back, if I could change something, it would be that during the first two years of my cancer diagnosis I took more of an active role. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself.  

And now, I want to do lots of things. And all being well, I’ll walk my youngest daughter down the aisle – that’s going to be this autumn. I can’t wait.

We're here for you

If you, your family or friends need support during this time, please call us on 0300 123 180, email or book a time to visit us.

If you're already visiting the hospital, just come in.

Last review: Jun 2023 | Next review: Jan 2024

More stories from our centres

Show more stories

Get cancer support near you

To find your nearest Maggie's centre, enter your postcode or town below.

Sign up for our newsletter

Stay up to date with our news and fundraising by signing up for our newsletter.

Sign up