A MAN who overcame throat cancer is now working to raise awareness of how the disease affects people's lives.

John Hodgson, 57, of Hepworth, is chairman of Communicating Head and Neck Cancer Yorkshire (Chancy), which is organising a conference for healthcare workers on Friday, May 27.

Head and neck cancers are quite rare, which means that many health professionals do not regularly encounter them.

The conference, at Pontefract Racecourse, aims to give health workers the chance to hear patients' views on treatments and the challenges they have faced while battling such cancers.

The conference - for 80 delegates - will be followed by a race night to raise cash for the Macmillan Cancer Relief charity.

Mr Hodgson was diagnosed with throat cancer in 2000, after visiting his GP about a lump in his neck.

After intensive chemo- therapy, radiotherapy and an operation he has overcome the disease.

But he was left with a slight hearing problem, his voice tires easily and he has just 12 teeth. All those with fillings had to be removed before radiotherapy.

He said: "I am the exception among head and neck cancer patients in that I haven't got much of a speech impediment.

"Some people have their voiceboxes removed or have throats or tongues rebuilt.

"It affects the way you eat and we hope to help medical professionals understand that it has quite a profound after-effect.

"They can then provide better support to patients."

It was while Mr Hodgson was under the care of cancer specialist Macmillan Nurses that he became involved with Chancy.

It is a group made up of six head and neck cancer patients, four Macmillan nurses and two carers, including Mr Hodgson's wife, Mandy.

She was able to take time off work to care for Mr Hodgson full-time during his illness.

Mr Hodgson said: "Mandy has had full-time experience of caring, which gives her valuable information to offer the conference.

"We were lucky. There were people being treated with me who were still having to work and their partners were having to work.

"Macmillan nurses in Yorkshire wanted a group of patients to talk to nurses, GPs and other professionals about patients' problems. So we set up Chancy in February last year."

The group is seeking sponsorship, mainly to cover the costs of the conference, but also to boost Macmillan Cancer Relief funds.

Anyone who can help should contact Mr Hodgson via Christine Pietrowski on 01904 756408.

To book a place at the conference, or for further information, phone Jackie Garforth on 01924 212283.