Life after cancer

My career as a secondary school teacher came to an abrupt end in September 2007 when I was diagnosed with bowel cancer that, over the following two years, also presented as secondary cancer in the liver. In a short space of time I went from teacher to patient, going through several operations, radiotherapy and chemotherapy on a roller coaster ride that swept me and my family up into the world of cancer.

Although I tried to remain positive, I became intolerant of phrases like ‘fighting ‘ or ‘battling’ with cancer. I obviously had the will to live but the real fight was in the hands of the clinicians, to become more aware of what they are dealing with, to develop better procedures and approaches and to encourage patients to present earlier to provide a better chance of survival.

As a volunteer, I have begun to understand the breadth of research that is being carried out to fight cancer. It is vital that we support the work that is being done to help people avoid and survive this disease.

It’s now seven years since my diagnosis. I have a new career as a freelance theatre practitioner working with teachers, schools and universities in the region. I am grateful to still be here, and for the dedication of the researchers, clinicians and hospital staff working with cancer – I, and many others, owe my life to them.

Allan Williams