Matthew's story – I had a fear of cancer

Wednesday 31 March 2021

Ųʿ Cheltenham

Matthew on top of a hill with his two dogs

When Matthew’s partner was diagnosed with cancer, it brought up deep-rooted fears of the disease for him. Now, he's able to look back on that period and offer advice to the next person down the line.

Whilst it's a massive change in our lives, you don't have to approach cancer like everything's going to be horrendous from now.
You can take nice things out of it, and you meet all these nice people. You need to look for help and guidance from people, as opposed to bottling up and burying your head in the sand. 

Dealing with Katy's diagnosis

When my partner Katy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it was really tough. At times I just just felt completely lost. I was broken really. I came out of the hospital, and didn't know where to go. 

I walked past Maggie’s and just turned up at the door in tears. They took me in, sat me down, and got me a cup of tea. 

Everyone wants to help you and you want to be able to help the person that's got the illness, but you've got to also find a way of helping yourself first so you can be there for that person.

Because if you're just a shell – you're there in body but not in mind – then you’re almost a hindrance to them.

They need to talk about things, but you can't even talk to them because it messes you up too much.

So first get your headspace right. And then you can support other people.  

Fear of cancer 

For me, I had this real fear of cancer. It was hard. I didn't deal with it very well at all.

I've always had a massive phobia of cancer, an irrational one. I couldn't even say the word.

I think it became more about me not being able to deal with it than Katy not being able to deal with it, because I was so petrified of the disease. 

Through Maggie’s I was able to get psychological support. It was only by me actually going and speaking to people that I learned to deal with my emotions a bit better and learned about cancer. 

You don't feel like you have a right to feel sorry for yourself or have anyone give you any sympathy because you think to yourself, realistically, I've got someone who's poorly – why should anyone feel sorry for me?

I wasn't a good person for a time as a result of it. 

Don't get me wrong, I still I don't understand it, and I still struggle with it. But I can talk about it now. I can say the word cancer, which I could never say before.

I can be around now but before, Katy would have treatment and I couldn't even in the room at times, which is appalling and such a bad trait to have.

"I was so scared of it. But now I can be around. It's only because of what I've learned through going to Ųʿ and talking to people that’s made me be able to be like that."

Taking part in Run 50 

I was in bed one night, and I saw this Facebook post that promoted the Run 50 miles for Maggie’s in January challenge.  

And I just sat there and thought, I'm going to put something out there. I’d never run before in my life, but I thought I would.  

Initially I thought nobody was going to sponsor me to do that, so I said I'd do 155 miles.

More people kept sponsoring me so I upped the miles.

I only wanted to raise about £200, and when it got to about £800, I knew I was going to have to push it again. 

So I said if it could raise £1,000, I’d do 200 miles. And it raised £1,000. So I upped it again.

Eventually I said, I’ll run the 200 miles, and then I'll do back-to-back half marathons. 

I thought, I can run for an hour a day and be in pain doing that because of what all these other people are going through.

From the £250 I wanted to start with, I've raised £2,750.

The endorphins, the euphoria – it was brilliant.

People were messaging me I hadn't spoken to for years and said, we've been following your running but we've never heard of Ųʿ before.

In Cheltenham people knew about the centre – you see people around in orange vests and stuff – but the wider community didn't.

My running has helped spread the word, which is what I wanted to achieve. I guess the money's one big thing, but so is getting people who didn't know about Ųʿ to be able to come into the centre and get support.

And that’s why I wanted to give back to Maggie’s.

We're here with you

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

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

Get involved

If you'd like to help support people with cancer, find out about our fundraising events and see how you can get involved.

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