A WIDOWER diagnosed with prostate cancer two years after his wife died has spoken out about his heartbreak – and the support that brought him back from the brink.
Paul Gay, of Acrefair, Wrexham, was devastated when he was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer after losing his wife Diana, 66, to a brain tumour.
He said the double blow left him feeling “down and cheated”.
But he said help from staff working as part of a £225,000 Macmillan Cancer Support project to help people in North Wales during and after their cancer treatment has been invaluable.
Mr Gay, a father-of-two, who has been supported by Louise Pickering, a Macmillan nurse for primary care in Llangollen, and Jennifer Jones, a Macmillan cancer support worker based in Wrexham Maelor Hospital, said: “Without the help from the Macmillan nurses Jenny and Louise I wouldn’t have got through it as well as I have done.
“I first got to know Macmillan when I cared for my wife in the five months between her diagnosis and her death.
“My wife died at home and the support I got through Macmillan for that was phenomenal.
“Then I was diagnosed with prostate cancer and have had to be cared for by the Macmillan people so Macmillan has been there for me in both instances.”
Mr Gay, 69, discovered he had cancer last June and, five weeks later, he had nine hours of surgery at Ysbyty Gwynedd to remove his prostate and 25 lymph nodes.
After recovering from the surgery, he started a course of hormone tablets and injections as part of his treatment.
He was first introduced to Macmillan nurses Mrs Pickering and Mrs Jones after leaving hospital.
They have supported him by offering him advice and information, signposting him to support such as the Llangollen Prostate Support Group, which he attends monthly, and by simply being people to whom he can talk.
He said: “Having lost my wife, I was going through an emotional time.
“Instead of being a carer, I was now the person who had the disease and I felt down and I felt cheated.
“I went to see Louise to chat, to cry and to just generally get through everything.
“Although I’m on my own I never felt as though I was alone. It was fantastic support.”
Mr Gay has been told his cancer is now in remission, but he has had follow up surgery for complications caused by his treatment, which Mrs Pickering and Mrs Jones have again supported him through.
He has also had support from his daughters Trudy, who lives in Llangollen, and Sharon, who lives in Derbyshire.
The pilot was funded by Macmillan and is run in partnership with Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, covering the Wrexham and Llangollen areas.
Susan Morris, general manager for Macmillan Cancer Support in Wales, said: “Macmillan is proud to have invested £225,000 into this pilot to support cancer patients in parts of North Wales both during and after their treatment.
“We know that people who are having or who have finished cancer treatment have a range of needs which go beyond their initial diagnosis, such as needing information or support to manage the long term physical side effects of treatment.
“Macmillan can only fund pilots such as the one which has supported Mr Gay thanks to the generosity of the public.”