Craig Bryden

I’d never given lung cancer a thought. Even after my uncle died of the disease 15 years ago, I didn’t cut back on my smoking. I just thought ‘It’ll never happen to me’.

I received an over 55’s NHS health check letter through the post. Usually it was the type of thing that I would have just stuffed in a drawer but, for once, I decided to act on it. So I had my check then we went on holiday in Portugal – we liked to go on at least three, if not four, holidays a year!

I got the results when I got back and they were surprisingly fantastic. They asked me if there was anything else I was concerned with and I mentioned my chest felt a little tighter than normal. They arranged for a chest x-ray that afternoon.

I got a phone call two hours later, telling me they had found a large mass on my right lung. And I knew. I knew straight away it was cancer.

I was with my wife, Rae, when the consultant confirmed it. I heard a sharp intake of breath and I just tapped her on the knee and said ‘Don’t worry darling I’ve known for a couple of weeks now, it’ll be fine’.

When I first started my treatment, I suffered from really bad mouth ulcers and, obviously, my hair fell out. I was also extremely tired; I couldn’t even walk to the end of the street. I ended up having a blood transfusion with three bags of blood. However, as the treatments have gone on, we’ve realised I can still do a lot of the stuff I was doing before. We’ve been on holiday and I still do all the driving.

On a day to day basis, I don’t even think about it – I’ve not got cancer right now. Two o’clock tomorrow, when I’m hooked up to my chemo, I’ll have cancer. During my consultation with a radiotherapist, I’ll have cancer then. The time in-between, I haven’t. That’s just my coping strategy.

There’s been times where people have come up to me in the pub and asked ‘how are you feeling, Craig? I hear you’re ill?’ I just say ‘Well I’m not unwell, I’ve just got cancer’. They don’t ask you many more questions after that!

I’m just being me. I play pool on a Wednesday night. I go to the pub and watch football. And, of, course, we’re still planning holidays.

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