On the sixth of January 2014 I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer and my life changed in a split second. Everything that I had known and taken for granted suddenly became very vulnerable with life even more so. Oncology sprang into action and the circus of tests, examinations and biopsies had begun. I found myself caught up in a whirlwind with nowhere to run to for safety and security, nowhere to take a breath.
Early on in my illness I was introduced to St Richard’s Hospice via my GP. Conscious of a reaction to the word ‘hospice’, he was quick to point out that it was only a word and far removed from the stereotypical definitions that my parent’s generation may have had of it. As he so rightly pointed out, it was for living the life you have to the fullest and in the best possible manner. I liked the sound of this!
Reassured, I took up his offer and shortly after, I met my specialist nurse, Julie. She helped me to unravel the complexities of my illness, the processes which I was now being affected by and above all, someone with whom I could share my most intimate fears and thoughts with but still feel good about it. It was she who introduced Men’s Space Club to me, outlining what the club was for and some of the many activities the club members were provided with. The latest being a visit to Croome Park.
I arrived at the hospice, checked in and reclined in an armchair awaiting collection. A short while later I was escorted to the club room and the rest is history. On entering the room I was greeted with several smiley faces, handshakes and offers of tea, coffee and biscuits. It took no time at all to feel that this was the place for me each Thursday. The atmosphere was warm and convivial. No-one questioned me, I was accepted as another member and that was that. So, after eighteen months of membership, how has being a member benefited me?
I now belong to a group of like-minded men who offer me companionship, laughter and encouragement, who pick me up when I’m feeling low and offer me a sounding-board when things are tough.
More importantly, the guys offer me the opportunity to share my innermost feelings in a safe and secure environment. Whether its tears or fears, they’re there to offer support. I have somewhere to go where I can sound off, priceless!
The most valuable gift that the club gives me is the opportunity to discuss my illness, any aches or pains that may be bothering me or forthcoming procedures. To be able to listen to someone who’s been there and are happy to share their experiences has been and still is, a most powerful tool in my armoury.
So, if you were just like me and not sure about whether to come along or not, then what better reason could you need, go on, take the first step, come along and enjoy a cup of tea or coffee and a biscuit, sit back and absorb the positive atmosphere. You won’t regret it!
We look forward to seeing you, we have cake too!