Counselling was my saviour
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Counselling was my saviour

Hello, my name is Paul Jeffcutt. Six years ago, I was diagnosed with kidney cancer: renal cell carcinoma. When the doctor told me the news, I thought my life was at an end. I sank down in the hospital bed in fear with n0 one to talk to.


The cancer had taken over my whole kidney and there was a tumour within my vena cava which was reducing blood flow to my heart. During the five week wait for open-heart surgery, I grew incredibly anxious and during my recovery became disorientated and felt overwhelmingly alone and depressed.


In 2015, four years after my first diagnosis, I had a pain in my abdomen that ended up being a metastatic recurrence – the tumour had spread from the kidney to my liver.  It was happening all over again. Despite having an urgent operation at Christmas 2015 to remove the tumour, eight months later it had grown back. I went through another operation to remove it again, which after two check-ups, has thankfully been successful.


It was after my first surgery in 2011, that I realised the problem was bigger than I could handle on my own. I needed to speak with someone who could help me. That’s when I found Mavis Duggan, a counsellor for Cancer Focus Northern Ireland based at Craigavon Area Hospital.


Mavis guided me through the next chapter in my life – she has been my saviour


I was experiencing many complexities of emotions and Mavis reassured me that I was not alone and not going mad because of the cancer. I am an active person, so my incapacity caused by the cancer hugely frustrated me. I tried to cope with this by writing about my days in hospital, my recovery and my daily life. Mavis encouraged me to share my experience so I began a blog and joined a Cancer Focus NI support group and the ‘Sing for Life’ choir which gave me the opportunity to meet other local people who are going through similar things to me. Cancer is so disempowering, writing is empowering; it gives people like me a voice.


Thanks to Mavis, I found the strength to carry on


I can’t imagine what it would be like to go through a cancer diagnosis without a counsellor like Mavis to speak to. Cancer Focus provides fantastic, essential support to local people who need it most right across Northern Ireland. You simply never know when you may need help, and by donating £10 today, you can ensure that these services are available to you, your family and friends for when they may need them most.


There is life beyond a cancer diagnosis. I went back to Mavis to help me through my two recurrences; she is the most exceptional counsellor I have ever met and we need her and others like her, to be able to continue their vital work in Northern Ireland.


Please donate today,  text CANC17 £10 to 70070

poet and writer. You can read his blog called ‘Writing to Survive’ here.  Alternatively, visit Paul’s website at to find out more information about his remarkable story.

If you have any concerns about cancer please contact our NurseLine on 0800 783 3339. Lines are open Mon– Fri, 9am-1pm. Alternatively, please email