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What it means to be Rich is to have endured eight years of cancer, umpteen surgeries, repeated bouts of chemo and radiotherapy and the medical opinion ‘no more can be done’ But there’s so much more to Rich’s story than that…

What it means to be Rich is to have courage and the determination to hold on to hope: ‘Not false hope’, he says: ‘ but hope’. And that’s something Penny Brohn UK has unique expertise in supporting. I was first diagnosed in 2009 and had an eight-hour operation to remove a tumour inside my ear. This was followed by six weeks of radiotherapy. I was OK for about a year after that, then a scan picked up a tumour in my neck. I had another op and another bout of radiotherapy, but I was OK. I was still at work (with BT who’ve been incredible) and while I had the odd night where I woke up in a cold sweat, my attitude was mainly ‘this is a pain but I’m going to recover.

‘You’re not getting me, cancer’ Around this time, I came to an open day at Penny Brohn. Despite my preconceptions, it quickly became clear that their thoughts on getting better and managing the illness are very similar to mine. Since then, I think I’ve used every service going. In fact, I ended up walking up Machu Picchu to raise money for Penny Brohn and it was when I got back from that trip that I first noticed an ache in my ribs and a shortness of breath.

Rich fundraising for Penny Brohn UK on the path to Machu Picchu

I went for a scan and it showed fluid on the lung caused by cancer, which had spread down my left side. It was straight into chemo – six weeks, high intensity – to really give it a good kicking. But again, I felt OK and even ran some 10ks to raise more money for Penny Brohn. Then, after a period of remission, scans showed the lung cancer creeping back. I had another type of chemo and also signed up for a clinical trial at the Royal Marsden in London.

But when they took some initial scans I was in for a real shocker; turns out I had three brain tumours which needed immediate treatment.

‘I said give me everything you’ve got’ I had gamma knife surgery; a super-accurate form of radiation that got rid of the tumours and went back on the trial, which stabilised and even slightly reduced the tumours in my lung. Things were looking up, then a scan showed signs of the brain tumours coming back.

I had whole-head radiation, wearing a full-head mask. People ask if I felt claustrophobic but my attitude was ‘this is good; this is giving me what I need to survive and be alive’, so I embraced it. But then things took a turn for the worse. Further scans showed that the brain cancer was still progressing. I was told to go home and spend some time with my wife and kids; that further treatment would be detrimental to my quality of life. But I told them, ‘you’ve got the wrong guy’…

‘I’m not giving up’ To cut a long story short, I asked for a second opinion and saw a magnificent consultant in Cardiff, recommended by Dr Catherine Zollman at Penny Brohn.

He suggested a treatment and my hospital in Bristol agreed to fund it – that’s why I’m still here. If I’d listened only to my doctors, I’d be gone by now. Instead, I had Penny Brohn to help me plan and prepare – and to give me hope. I’m convinced we’ve lost a lot of good people to cancer because they haven’t had this type of support. That’s why I’m sharing my story and continuing to fundraise for Penny Brohn. I hope you’ll help them too.’

T he whole Penny Brohn mentality towards life and well-living has had a massive effect. Just walking through the doors of the building gives me confidence and my mental enthusiasm hasn’t changed; I’m going to fight to survive.

Inner resources can only take us so far… Please make a donation today, so that we can continue to help people affected by cancer. Even the strongest need our support to keep going through the most terrifying time of their lives… that’s why your gifts are so important. Thank you.

I said to my children, everyone’s got something difficult to deal with; it could be relationships, finances or something else… this is my difficult thing, but don’t panic, it’s not going to kill me. I just manifested this strength and a commitment to survive.

Penny Brohn UK Bringing improved health and enrichment to everyone affected by cancer The Bristol Whole Life Approach, pioneered by Penny Brohn UK, provides a powerful combination of physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual support that is designed to help anyone affected by cancer, at any stage of the disease.

Working with the NHS and alongside standard medical treatment, we help people to help themselves and reclaim control of their health and wellbeing.

Our Approach recognises that, to be healthy, we need to pay attention to all parts of ourselves – our mind, body, spirit and emotions, as these are all closely connected and work together to support our immune system and its ability to keep us well.

Thank you.

If you think everyone should have access to this type of support, please make a gift to our Christmas Appeal.

Penny Brohn UK Chapel Pill Lane, Pill Bristol BS20 OHH Contact us on 0303 3000 118

We are able to offer our services free of charge thanks to the charitable donations that fund our work. For information about how you can support us contact Penny Brohn UK is the trading name of Penny Brohn Cancer Care, a registered charity (no. 284881) and company registered in England (no. 1635916)

Christmas appeal: What it means to be Rich  

Meet Rich; the ex-serviceman and self-confessed “roughty-toughty” who never imaged he’d find what he needed at Penny Brohn UK.

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