In 2017, former Beatson patient Stephen will embark on gruelling three day trek across the Arctic for Beatson Cancer Charity – we caught up with Stephen on his experience in hospital and his upcoming challenge.
Q. Hi Stephen, thanks for coming in today. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your involvement with the Beatson?
"I’m Stephen McLaughlin, I’m 27 and Mechanical Design Engineer from Larkhall. I was diagnosed with testicular cancer in the autumn of 2014, where I attended the Beatson for six weeks – it was surreal experience that passed very quickly."
Q. What were the services like you experienced at the Beatson?
"I used the Wellbeing Centre every day and my family and friends visited at nights. It was a great escape. I would go there for about an hour each day and got my hair cut by Ian (BCC Hairdresser), then my brother would come in and watch the football with me in the cinema room."
Q. The charity services must have really helped then?
"It was the best way to make the experience as normal as possible, rather than lying in bed for four or five days straight.
I was put in a room with other guys and I heard all of the different experiences and felt fortunate. It was hard to talk like that all day, so the Wellbeing Centre was good to get away. Being with other patients, you could see it helping each other after being able to use the Centre.
You don’t know where the charity money goes until you experience it. You need people to know the Wellbeing Centre is there."
Q. What was the impact of the staff and their support during your treatment?
"I didn’t meet one negative person – everyone had a smile on their face and were very positive. Even patients spoke so positively.
Just all the staff in the Beatson were 100% positive – everyone from NHS to Beatson Cancer Charity staff, especially the centre assistants who were great to my friends and family. It really made such a difference – they were so bubbly! It was also great that visitors are offered stuff in the centre [teas, coffees etc.]."
Q. How about your recovery, what was that like? How did you cope after it all?
"In terms of my recovery, I was back to work within a week of finishing treatment. It took a while, but in my company I wasn’t the only person affected by cancer. A lot of people have been sharing their experiences with me.
Another family member was going through the experience at the same time as well.
I want to encourage people to check themselves – the best case is it’s nothing. I would advise everyone to get checked if they suspect something. One of the guys in my room was at the next stage in his cancer – if I hadn’t got checked so early, that could have been me.
The nurse told me that they highest percentage of guys affected are young and fit – so it’s almost like it’s just your luck.
I didn’t want to talk about it at the time or afterwards, even with friends and family. It was my first year of marriage too – our first anniversary was right in the middle of it all. But I guess there’s never a good time! [Laughs]"
Come back tomorrow to see part two of Stephen’s Q&A as he talks to us about his preparation for the Arctic Trek and the importance of fundraising for Beatson Cancer Charity. If you would you like to inspire others and share your story? Contact firstname.lastname@example.org or if you want to find out more about our fundraising events click here.