John’s story. World Cancer Day

Today is world cancer day.

A cancer diagnosis is not only about physical health, it’s important to recognise the massive impact if can have on somebody’s mental health too.

John is 64 and has used our Wellbeing Centres in Liverpool for a number of years because of his experiences with poor mental health and low mood. As a trained peer supporter, he’s also got to a point where he feels able to support so many people experiencing similar things as him to channel their feelings into creative outlets, like reading or playing an instrument. When John was diagnosed with cancer and began chemotherapy treatment this was a massive strain on his emotional wellbeing. He found himself stepping backwards with his mental health…

I was referred to the Wellbeing Centres by my GP when I’d gone in and spoke about how I was feeling. It’s great to know things like this exist. I was constantly feeling so pessimistic and negative, it’s like a black hole you can’t escape. You can’t find the light. At PSS it’s like somebody draws the curtain open a little bit.

I’m involved in everything. I’ve done a peer supporters course and I used to love leading the reading group but after being diagnosed with my illness… it all became a bit much. It hasn’t stopped me though, I’m involved with the ukulele group called The Strumbrellas. It’s nice to just forget about everything for a little bit… just have fun and be with people.

Being involved with PSS has completely changed my outlook on life. I think I’m more caring and I have more empathy. You see all these different people and they have similar problems to you… you realise you’re not alone. You’re all in it together.

I’m ill at the moment and Nicky McGovern, the manager of the Wellbeing Centres, has helped me enormously. She’s kept me involved with PSS and has taken my focus and thoughts off my illness.

I left school with no qualifications, yet in my 40s I took the plunge and got GSE certificates in English literature and modern world history. PSS  has allowed me to record a radio interview, act in a play in front of an audience, have my art exhibited, do stand-up comedy and I’ve written poetry, coming runner up in a competition.’

We’re inspired by John’s tenacity to continue to grow and develop despite his illness. This positivity has been supported by the PSS team but – most of all – through John’s own determination and self-belief. Even in his darkest moments he has been able to see the joy in life.

To find out more about our wellbeing services, visit: