Cancer survivor Nigel Short is looking forward to a family Christmas at home this year, after living beyond doctors’ bleak prognosis.
The father-of-two was dealt the devastating news that he had stage three throat cancer back in 2007. He spent that Christmas Eve on the operating table, undergoing nine-hours of surgery to remove a tumour on his tonsils.
Despite having treatment, he was given just a 30 per cent chance of living five years. But six years on Nigel is preparing for Christmas Day at home with his parents and his two children, Gina 21 and Dan, 19.
“I’m not the Grinch, but Christmas does bring back some bad memories for me,” said Nigel, aged 47, from Aston, Sheffield. “That said I’m looking forward to it and it does mark a milestone that I was told I was unlikely to reach. I think some people get the values of Christmas all wrong – it’s about who you are with, not what you’ve got.”
After surgery Nigel endured seven weeks of intense radiotherapy and chemotherapy and was fed through a tube directly into his stomach to bypass his swollen throat, which had 54 stitches.
He said: “I suffered really bad side effects – being sick was the worst.
“Even after you finish the treatment you still go downhill. I was fed through a tube for months and even now I can’t eat spicy food.”
While Nigel is incredibly grateful to the health service for the treatment he received, he’s also angry that GPs failed to diagnose him sooner.
“I felt a lump in my neck in 2005 and visited GPs on numerous occasions but was sent away time and time again – it could have been caught earlier,” said Nigel, who runs his own telecoms business.
“The treatment was amazing though – without it I wouldn’t be here. My surgeon gave up his Christmas Eve shopping with his family to bring forward my operation and my oncologist at Sheffield’s Weston Park Hospital was a hero.”
Determined to raise awareness of cancer and to help fellow patients of the disease, Nigel has since thrown himself into fundraising for a number of worthy causes, to which he and many others owe their lives.
“My prognosis was a real eye-opener, it made me revaluate things,” said Nigel. “I didn’t tell many people about my prognosis until I was in remission
“Surviving cancer has been one of the best things in my life though – it has changed who I am. I work hard, but at having a good time as well.
“I feel fantastic currently and live for the day – I’m always trying something new and try to raise awareness where I can.
Nigel stepped into the unknown for one of his recent fundraisers when he performed a stand-up comedy routine as part of Weston Park Hospital Cancer Charity’s Funny Business.
As a passionate Sheffield Wednesday supporter, Nigel informed fellow fans of his illness through the clubs Owlstalk forum and was overwhelmed when they raised more than £10,000 for the Weston Park charity in response.
A pastime during his treatment has also turned into a charity money maker.
“I was unable to talk for a while so I kept a blog to keep family and friends updated on my progress,” said Nigel. “It was also to support other patients and to let them know what to expect through their treatment.
“A publishers later approached me about turning my blog into a book, which was great.”
The blog entries have been compiled into an online and printed book - Nigel 1, Cancer 0 – which will raise further funds for Weston Park Hospital. The book is available online from www.amazon.co.uk or www.thesolopreneur.co.uk.