Former Huddersfield Town skipper and boss Peter Jackson recalled the moment he was diagnosed with throat cancer and admitted: “I thought I’d lost my voice from shouting at footballers.”

Mr Jackson, diagnosed in 2008, underwent an intensive course of 21 radiotherapy sessions and is now in remission and has been given the all-clear by doctors at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary.

Now he has talked about his experiences to the support group set up for patients who have had or are undergoing treatment for a head or neck cancer at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary as a thank-you for the care and support he and his family received during his treatment.

The Speak for Thy’sen support group has been run by patients and carers for many years supporting many laryngectomy patients and with the support and funding from Macmillan, NHS staff now attend the group.

L-r: Lead Macmillan Head and Neck clinical nurse specialist, (cns) Michelle Beaumont; Macmillan Highly Specialist speech and language therapist Gill Jolly; Macmillan Head and Neck CNS Natalie Haigh; Macmillan Cancer Care Coordinator, Kirsty Macdonald together with Peter and his wife Alison.
L-r: Lead Macmillan Head and Neck clinical nurse specialist, (cns) Michelle Beaumont; Macmillan Highly Specialist speech and language therapist Gill Jolly; Macmillan Head and Neck CNS Natalie Haigh; Macmillan Cancer Care Coordinator, Kirsty Macdonald together with Peter and his wife Alison.
 

The aim is for the group to be opened up to all Head and Neck cancer patients to provide extra support for patients once their hospital treatment has finished and around 30 patients attended the event in the Boardroom at HRI.

Mr Jackson - known as Jacko to thousands of soccer fans - said: “The diagnosis was a real shock to me and my loved ones. At the time I thought all the shouting I was doing as a manager had caused me to lose my voice. But it wasn’t getting better so I got it checked out and ended up being told I had cancer.

“The Macmillan nurses were a massive help to me. The radiotherapy burned and damaged my vocal chords. I was a football manager and my voice was such an important part of my job. I needed to rebuild the strength in my vocal chords and the nurses helped me to do that.”

He added; “People did ask me if I was going to go private but I didn’t want that. I wanted the NHS because it is the best in the world. The nurses have been with me every step of the way from diagnosis right until now and I can’t praise them enough.”

His wife Alison, a former oncology sister, said: “As a nurse I was determined to look after Peter and didn’t think I needed support. As a nurse you are used to getting on with the job. But I did need support and the nurses had such understanding and empathy.

“They are always there to pick you up at your weakest moments and once you speak to them you always feel better.”

Specialist nurse Natalie Haigh, said: “Peter is a lovely man and we were thrilled when he agreed to come and talk to our group.

“Cancer patients can get so much support from simply listening to others who have gone through the same and he spoke with such positivity and humour. We are very grateful to both him and Alison on behalf of our patients.”

The couple now run a homecare company Caremark (Calderdale) which supports over 130 people with care and support needs in their own homes throughout the Kirklees and Calderdale areas.

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