At Veterans Cancer Support the assistance we provide to both cancer patients and their loved ones help them to navigate the complexities of the disease with strength and hope. Don’t take our word for it – here are the words of some of those we have worked with since we started:
Hi, my name is Tommy Smith. I joined the Royal Air Force in 2004 at the tender age of 19 and transferred to the RAF Reserves in 2010. I was primarily based at RAF Brize Norton but spent plenty of time in The Falklands, East Africa, Canada, and many other interesting places. I was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer earlier this year (2023) when my life quickly changed from hard work and lots of travel, to constant hospital appointments. I am currently undergoing a rather gruelling treatment regime, but I have found comfort in this group. The group enables peoples from all three services, as well as their dependents, to share their stories and come together. We can join in each other’s journeys through reading and commenting on posts, and take comfort in knowing that we are not going through these terrible times alone. Us military and ex-military types are often of a sort, and it can be easier to share with those of a similar mindset. This group allows us all to do just that. I have found everyone who engages to be friendly and supportive. It is a very welcoming place.
Veterans Cancer Support is a wonderful resource that since its inception has helped many veterans through the anxieties and loneliness of cancer treatment. Support from veterans who have been through the trauma of cancer with hospital visits or through its Facebook group is priceless help.
Dave Peel MBE
One thing about this group is they know how to push on through adversity as they always told us in the Paras flexibility and a sense of humour is required at all times
Peter Chipchase, Abbotsford
Hi I’m Ash, a Royal Air Force Veteran of 15 years. My career came to an abrupt medical end after an incident on Active Service. I was still in poor health from that when I was diagnosed with Incurable Lymphocytic Leukaemia – blood cancer – in my late 40’s. I was signposted to the Veterans Cancer Support Group by my Help for Heroes Clinical Advisor. The group has proved invaluable to me in so many ways. It is the only place that exists where I can truly open up about my cancer in a sometimes blunt, sometimes dark humoured, but always military way.
Ash Ozman Brixham
Hi my name is Cherryl Ramsden nee Gale and I served in the Royal Navy as a QARNNS from 1972-1974 . I was first diagnosed with a nasty female cancer of the vulva in 2010 and underwent a radical vulvectomy and lymph node dissection in both groins, I was doing very well until march 2021 when I went for a routine mammogram and was diagnosed with breast cancer ,had a wide local excision ,lymph node dissection followed by chemotherapy and radiotherapy .I am now on hormone blockers for the next 5-10 years . I owe so much to our wonderful NHS over the years and now I have the camaraderie of this Veterans cancer group. I am constantly reminded how fortunate I have been when reading the posts on here and thankful to still be in remission. Thank you
Cherryl, Ashford, Kent
I’m Paul, currently serving as a WO2 in the REME, Army. My story is I was initially diagnosed in February 2022 with NSCLC Stage 4 Adenocarcinoma Lung Cancer with a RET mutation, at 36 years old and having never smoked this came completely out of the blue and complete shock to me. The first thing this taught me is that you don’t have to be a smoker to get lung cancer, it’s all down to our own DNA. The way in which I found out was that I had what I thought to be a chest infection which I couldn’t seem to shake no matter what I tried. I visited the Dr on a completely unrelated issue and mentioned it to her. Having listened to my chest she found nothing wrong and sent me for an X-Ray which found a dark patch. This then started off a chain of events with several tests being conducted, CT scans, PET scans, blood tests and a Biopsy. After it was all confirmed I started treatment in April 2022 every 3 weeks undergoing both Chemotherapy and Immunotherapy. This lasted for 13 months before my body couldn’t take it anymore and with several side effects things needed to change. I then started a tablet-based treatment which is daily and up to now seems to be working well. Over the course of the last 18 months, I have received an awful lot of support from family, friends and people I have never spoken to before, people have reached out and given me their story. I was completely unaware of how many people have suffered from Cancer and these have engaged with me offering advice on what seems like the smallest of things, like the best food to eat post treatment. A good friend of mine introduced me to a group on Facebook, Veterans Cancer Support. Even though I’m not a Veteran just yet I was received with open arms and offered all kinds of support and advice, all of which is very much appreciated. The hardest thing I find is speaking to people who haven’t been through it, even with the greatest intentions they just don’t understand the emotional rollercoaster you go through. Going from thinking you are a healthy individual to being told you have an incurable disease, and your time is limited is just something you can’t explain without having been there yourself.
Paul West, Hereford