When Joe first found out about Penny Brohn Cancer Care he was in a very low place. He had been diagnosed with prostate cancer at the age of just 43.
Click here to find out more about our Prostate Cancer specific 'Living Well' courses, now available across England.
The diagnosis and subsequent treatment had left him disorientated, depressed and frightened about what the future might hold.
His father had died a few years before of the same condition, so for Joe the association between cancer and death was extremely powerful.
Over the previous year and a half, Joe had been passed from one doctor or cancercare specialist to another. “I expect they were all medically brilliant,” he said, “and that they knew everything there was to know about treating my tumour. But not one of them ever talked to me about how I was in it all. In fact, in nearly 18 months of intensive treatment, no-one ever talked to me about how I could live with my cancer.”
“It might sound silly... but before I came to Penny Brohn I had no concept that you could ‘live well’ with cancer”
Meanwhile, all that treatment had really taken its toll. As well as having undergone a major operation to remove his prostate gland, Joe had endured a three month course of radiotherapy. “It was incredibly
gruelling,” he remembers, “but at the time it’s like you’re on this hurtling train. There’s no time to think
about what it all means.”
Eventually Joe returned to work and immersed himself in his job. For a while he seemed to have put it all behind him. Then, almost out of nowhere, the real impact of everything he’d been through finally struck.
Joe contacted us and signed up for the Living Well course. “From the moment I arrived,” he says, “I knew I had found something special. The information that was shared on the course made complete sense to me and I realised there were all these things I could do to help myself. “It was an absolute revelation. Almost immediately I started to see my cancer and my relationship with it differently.”
“I’ve never been so low in all my life. I became riddled with self doubt. Would I live to see my children get married? Would I be able to have a relationship again? Would I ever put my life back together?
Thankfully, that was when I heard about Penny Brohn”
That’s not to say there weren’t challenges for Joe. “When they told us we were going to meditate,” he remembers, “I literally ran away. I put on my trainers and didn’t stop running for eight miles. I was like Forrest Gump!”.
In his own time, however, Joe came back and with our gentle encouragement began to experiment with meditation. “Now it’s part of my daily routine. And it’s not the only thing I’ve changed. I realise now that Living Well gave me the tools, the building blocks that I can use to help myself. As a result of what I learnt, I’ve adapted my diet, my exercise routine, my whole lifestyle.
And I feel better than ever.” Joe still has cancer, but now he really is living well with it.
“I know it sounds like a cliché, but thanks to the Living Well course and the support of Penny Brohn, I really have turned my life around”