72-year-old Jack Reid has been Cambridge based almost all of his life. The retired principal, who was at nearby Goodwood School for 32 years, says that he gets a lot of laughs from his six grandchildren when he tells them he spent 65 years at school.
The retiree, who still does the odd bit of DIY, says that he has always been ‘hands on’ turning his talents to everything from working on the land to building, tiling and plenty more.
But things have changed for Jack since the discovery of blood in his urine 20 months ago led to a diagnosis of bladder cancer.
The chemo and surgery that followed were miserable. Not only did Jack lose 22kg during chemo, but he describes the first three months after an operation to remove his bladder, and other parts of his body as ‘hell’. “I was in extreme pain,” he says.
The challenges seemed to keep coming for Jack: an infection four and a half weeks after surgery, and an accident near his home where he stepped on a nail sending it through his foot.
Not long after that, doctors discovered a second tumour.
“After two and a half months of treatment for the second tumour, I went in for a scan. The good news was that treatment had halted growth of the tumour. But unfortunately, a third tumour had appeared in my shoulder blade,”
“I felt like everything was against me,” says Jack.
Jack says he takes things day by day. The radiation therapy which weakened his bones to the point where his shoulder blade snapped does limit certain movements. But he is pleased to be making progress – the ability to once again lift his arm is a milestone.
“The wonderful thing about the body is that it forgets the intensity of the pain.”
Jack says support from the Cancer Society has really made a difference. “When you walk out of the hospital after surgery or treatment, no one gives you a booklet or handy hints as you leave,” he says.
Information and visits from a Cancer Society support nurse helped Jack to understand what he was going through.
“I was visited by a support nurse a number of times and the advice and information they provided was really helpful. It helped confirm what I was thinking.”
“I’ve also found it really useful to share and talk with people with similar experiences in the support group.”
Keeping positive is a way of life for Jack who says he has an “angel of a wife”.
“I have a wonderful supportive family along with a group of very loyal friends and six beautiful grandchildren. You could say I’m lucky.”