Ansal Trafford shares his cancer story and how the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity helped him through his treatment.
When cancer came knocking upon my door I had no idea how much my life would change, from that moment onwards. I was diagnosed with node positive prostate cancer in January this year. I knew that something wasn’t right but I didn’t see cancer coming.
Prior to the diagnosis I had been off work for months. I had been unwell for a while but neither I, nor my GP, knew the cause of my ill health or why I wasn’t getting better. I had also been experiencing acute pain in my lower back, in my abdomen and in one of my testicles. Up to that point I had chosen to soldier on.
As a teacher, I was used to working long hours and always put my work first. I simply didn’t have time to be unwell. Hearing the clinical nurse at Broomfield Hospital say the words, ‘the tumour is cancerous and it has spread outside the wall of your prostate’ was like being hit by a bus. It literally stopped me in my tracks.
Prior to this my GP had arranged ultrasound scans and numerous blood tests. They had all come back normal and showed no cause for concern. I was young and fit and healthy. On the outside. And that’s the thing with many cancers, and in my case with prostate cancer, they often can’t be seen and can remain undetected for years.
Looking back, there were signs and there were clues. I was fifty two. My PSA blood test results had increased to 4.62. Two of my close family members have been treated for cancer. One currently has prostate cancer.
Pressing my GP for further tests to be carried out turned out to be the right move as things began to move very quickly, once the tumour in my prostate had been found. Biopsies. Full body bone scans. Monthly hormone therapy injections. Then radiotherapy.
Having my wife, Nina, by my side and the support of my family and friends and the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has made this year infinitely more bearable. The staff at Helen Rollason have been amazing. They have booked regular treatments with their reflexologists for me and arranged talking therapy with their experienced counsellors.
A lovely lady called Helen Thomson, who I worked with at my school, encouraged me to get in touch with the Helen Rollason Cancer Charity. She told me that it had been a lifeline for her while she was going through chemotherapy. My life, and my journey with cancer, has been transformed as a result of her kindness and thoughtfulness.
Since then I have recommended HRCC to everyone who will listen. The charity and the support that they provide has also become a lifeline for me and for my family. If you know someone who has been diagnosed with cancer, or who lives with someone who has cancer or had cancer, please tell them to contact the centre. One conversation can change someone’s life. The conversation that I had with Helen Thomson changed mine.
Over the last night months I’ve helped to set up the Men’s Group and have spoken on BBC Essex about my journey with cancer. As well as encouraging everyone who has been touched by cancer to get in touch with Helen Rollason Cancer Charity, I now also recommend Sophie Sabbage’s book, The Cancer Whisperer, whenever the opportunity arises. It has been a game changer for me.
Like an uninvited guest we never know how long cancer will be staying with us or how life will be once it has settled in. We can choose to fight and battle cancer, and create further anxiety and stress within our bodies, or we can choose to embrace it and allow it to transform the rest of our life.
Sophie Sabbage refused to go into battle with the cancer that had been discovered in her lungs and in her brain. ‘I may have cancer,’ she wrote, ‘Cancer does not have me.’ She lived an inspirational life and has inspired people across the world, who have been diagnosed with cancer, to use their cancer diagnosis to transform their lives.
Nothing prepares you or your loved ones for a cancer diagnosis. Please spread the word. It helps to talk. It also helps to be around people who understand. Helen Rollason Cancer Charity has been my lifeline, and will continue to be in the months and years ahead. They are officially amazing. Please pass this on.
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