64-year-old, Mike Taylor (pictured) from Inverness was diagnosed with a rare form of Cutaneous T-Cell Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 1999.
Now retired, Mike has currently been shielding for four months and putting all his energy into his volunteer work for Macmillan Cancer Support, he is now one of the charity’s online community champions.
Having endured a lot of treatment for his cancer, today Mike is in remission from a disease he was told he’d never recover from, he said:
“I’ve lived with cancer for a long time now.
“Around six years ago my cancer returned quite aggressively so I underwent a lot of treatment, 750 hours of chemotherapy and 45 cycles of radiotherapy and two allogeneic stem cell transplants – I’ve also ended up in intensive care a few times.
“The whole treatment process killed my immune system so I had to confine myself to staying at home, while the transplanted stem cells grew and my immune system built itself up again.
“For the last four years, I have been in remission – I was told I wouldn’t survive this disease and had three years left to live.”
Mike has a rare form of blood cancer so was shocked to find an online community with others diagnosed with the same.
“About three years ago, I was asked by a Macmillan haematology nurse to give a talk to nursing students about my cancer experience.
“I went on to the Macmillan website in advance to clue myself up on some cancer facts and saw a little green tag promoting the online community on the homepage.
“I was so chuffed that I was able to navigate and find a group that covered my very rare type of cancer.
“I joined the platform and started interacting with people.
“I was post-treatment at the time and it takes such a toll on your body.
“It took me years to recover so I was really pleased to find other people going through the same thing and quickly realised I wasn’t alone.
“Being able to chat to others really helped with my recovery – it’s great that we’re all able to share stories about what we are going through.
“I decided to become a volunteer for the online community.
“I could help debunk old wives’ tales but also share first-hand stories of going through chemotherapy, radiotherapy and stem cell transplants.”
With 1,000 new registrations every month, Macmillan Cancer Support’s Online Community is a big help to a lot of people living with cancer, Mike said:
“It’s incredibly supportive for people going through treatment.
“I’m very thankful that I’m still here and I want to give back by giving some hope to people who may feel scared and see no way forward.”
When the pandemic hit and lockdown was actioned a lot of people turned to the forum for help.
“There was turmoil across all the blood cancer groups on the online community.
“People asking what did it mean for them?
“How do I register as vulnerable?
“We have been helping people out for months now.
“Pointing them in the right direction and offering support, and reassurance.
“I have been shielding by myself during lockdown and until a few weeks ago I had not been beyond the end of my garden for 99 days.
“I couldn’t guarantee that I’ll I’d be safe if I went out.
“For people with blood cancers and people who are shielding, it’s a life or death situation.
“The online community champions are an amazing bunch of people – some are extremely ill themselves.
“We’re here to hold people’s hands as they go through cancer and it makes me happy if I can make even a small difference to someone and give them the support they need.”
Ellen Bergdahl for Macmillan’s online community, said:
“Mike is an amazing volunteer for Macmillan.
“He offers so much to people in our online community.
“He uses his own cancer experience selflessly to help and support those that are a little lost and troubled.
“He has real compassion, friendliness and understanding in his approach.
“It’s these qualities that make him an integral part of the provision of support and advice we offer – we’re very lucky to have him.
“I’d recommend to anyone out there that has some free time to give volunteering a go.
“It’s incredibly rewarding, you can really influence and change people’s lives, including your own.”
If you’re facing cancer, or love someone who is, there may be times when you need to talk about things or just hear from those who’ve been there.
The online community is full of people who understand how you feel, because they’re facing cancer too, click here to find out more.