The past three years have been the toughest of Chris Dickson’s life.
The 40-year-old chef from Morecambe has battled cancer, going through a series of emotional lows of his diagnosis and treatment, then the high of being told he was cancer free before the crushing news that the disease had returned again.
But he is grateful to CancerCare who he says have played a significant part to what he hopes will be eventual recovery.
The dad of four ‘s life was torn apart when he was first diagnosed with grade 1 bladder cancer in August 2013.
He had two tumours removed in September 2013 and then one dose of chemotherapy, followed by six further weeks of chemo after multiple recurrence of tumours.
Then 16 small tumours were discovered, so treatment continued, then five tumours were found, then two.
Then in June 2015, Chris was delighted when he was given the all clear from cancer and celebrated with his family - wife Sharon, stepson Ryan and daughters Olivia, Amber and Maisy who have supported him through it all.
“When they told me it was total shock,” he said at the time. “It was a big weight off my shoulders.”
But a few months later he was told more tumours had been found and he had to go through chemotherapy again.
Chris, who works as head chef at the University of Cumbria, has remained positive throughout and said that at least since the cancer returned, his tumours are smaller than before and he hopes this means they will eventually disappear completely.
“They are getting smaller and smaller as the years go on,” he said. “It’s going in the right direction.”
When Chris first found out about CancerCare he wasn’t sure exactly what the charity could do to help him.
“When I first started going to CancerCare I didn’t know much about it,” he said.
“Somebody recommended it. I said I’m not into that sort of thing.
“I was a bit apprehensive at first. There are people there who are a lot iller than me. I felt like a fraud.
“But I went there to see what it was all about and they were really welcoming.”
Chris said CancerCare’s idyllic retreat at Slynedales was the perfect place to escape.
“I just needed time on my own away from work and my everyday busy life.
“I opted for aromatherapy massage and it was absolutely fantastic. It took me away from the stresses of work life. I forgot about the cancer.
“It was really good for me. It did really work. It was part of me getting better.”
Chris also highly recommends the counselling skills of the CancerCare team.
“When I found out the cancer had come back and I told them, they said if I ever needed anything, support or any more treatments, just give them a ring.
“They made me feel like I could pop in any time and see them.
“My aromatherapist Dany was really nice, it was nice to chat to her about the cancer and what was going on in my life.
“Next time I do a charity event I’m going to do it for CancerCare. They are a wonderful service.”