Having been healthy for 48 years, I had suspicions that something was not right in January 2015. A tumour was missed on the first examination, and a month later it was located in my lower colon. I also had a CT scan. It wasn’t until May that it was confirmed as cancer. This rocked both myself and my family.

In June 2015 I had major abdominal surgery to remove the tumour, and at the same time fifteen lymph nodes were removed. Two of them showed signs of cancer. Four days later I was discharged from hospital with no information about what to do, what to expect, where I could find help, or about local support groups.

Very soon I was struggling and found myself scouring the internet at stupid o’clock in the morning trying to source the information that I needed. It was during those desperate first few weeks that I discovered The Living Tree.

I wasn’t strong enough to go along straight away. Chemotherapy had been recommended and I had one round of I.V. chemo at Dorchester, and then three days into a two-week program of tablets, I had to stop the treatment due to severe adverse reactions to the drugs.

It took me a few weeks to regain enough strength and courage to walk into The Living Tree that first Friday. I am so glad I did. I soon found people who had been through the same or similar to me and could shed some light on the issues I was experiencing. I am very grateful to the network of new friends that I’ve gained.

I have not been able to work as I did, as I endure ongoing complications from the surgery. Through The Living Tree, I have enrolled on the ‘Stepping Out’ program of supportive exercise classes held at Bridport Rugby Club, specifically tailored for cancer patients, which has helped rebuild my strength and confidence.

Cancer can be physically and mentally exhausting. I have had the opportunity to try all sorts of activities that I would not otherwise have tried. These have all had a positive impact on my quality of life and what works for the ‘new me’. I am more in tune with my physical and emotional needs, and have found that The Living Tree has helped to provide this holistic support.

Martyn, May 2016