Jim, 68, was diagnosed with myelodysplastic syndrome in 2012. MDS is a group of blood disorders where the balance of healthy blood cells in the body is disrupted. He had a transplant in 2013. Unfortunately Jim relapsed and sadly passed away in April 2015.
‘I am a farmer. I see life, I see death. So mentally I managed to cope with the diagnosis and transplant quite well. I went into hospital thinking that I’d keep texting my friends to stay in touch, or maybe write a diary.
But after five days of chemo, all I wanted to do was lie in bed and see my family. That was a bit of a shock because I thought I was more up for it. But the intense chemo knocked out the few sensible cells I had left!
‘After coming out of hospital I found that I wasn’t as capable as I thought, mentally or physically. I just couldn’t concentrate. I found that one day I couldn’t even spell my name. It slows down the whole system. But as time goes on, that all improves.
‘I have two children, my son Jamie who’s 33 and Katie who’s 32. They’re at that stage in life where they can totally understand everything and they were so supportive.
I felt close to them before but we’ve just bonded so much during this period. My daughter came home from Zimbabwe just to be with me and even when the operation was postponed, she refused to leave my side. That was very touching.
My son has been great too; he’s always telling me off because I have to drink more water. And throughout it all my wife has been a rock behind everything for me – I couldn’t have got through it without her.
‘I’m feeling good. I can almost say that each week, I feel a little better. Some days I don’t feel so good but, okay, I’m 68 and some days I’m allowed not to feel so good.
I want to just get out there and do things, just as I would have done before the diagnosis. But I feel a lot better as time goes on. I’ve had a good life – a bit more would be nice.’