‘‘A lot of us aren’t comfortable with accepting or asking for help,’’ 76›year›old cancer veteran Alan Butler says.
‘‘Maybe it’s a fear of giving up our own power or control to someone else. But people are learning, especially men, that power lies in keeping your options open. There’s nothing like cancer to make you feel powerless, but the Cancer Society is there if you want them to be, to tell you what all the options are and help you work through the ones that are right for you.’’
Alan, a former soldier, was one of a large family with a history of cancer.
Both his parents and several of his eight siblings suffered and died from serious cases of the disease.
He lived with and took care of a younger brother with the illness throughout the Christchurch earthquakes.
‘‘I always knew the chances of me getting cancer were high and 11 years ago when I saw a lot of blood the doctor straight away wanted to remove my whole bladder, but I chose not to go that way. A week later they removed what they could and I fronted up to heavy chemo and radiation therapy.’’
Alan was clear for a while but the cancer returned this year.
He said he was something of a loner, but he knew from past experience there was no sense in trying to manage alone.
‘‘My family is pretty spread out now but I’ve been lucky to have a close friend or two. When they couldn’t be around anymore the Cancer Society was.
‘‘You could just call them up for someone to talk to, their people come and visit and ask if there’s anything you need or want. They know about other people and services you’d never guess at if you were trying to do it alone, and they’ll help with the forms, procedures and travel to access it.’’
Alan was hosted at Daffodil House, near Dunedin Hospital for a recent round of serious treatment.
‘‘It was like a five›star motel with your own room and ensuite. The kitchen and communal areas are brilliant and the people there — I couldn’t praise them enough — they understand. Without Cancer Society and Daffodil house I couldn’t have had that treatment because there’s no way I could have afforded three weeks accommodation on my own.’’ ‘‘Get any odd issues checked at your doctor, and be prepared when people offer help it can be awkward. ‘‘Be polite and grateful just for the offer. You’ll likely find yourself taking it up later after the idea has grown on you. ‘‘You have no power if you haven’t got options. ‘‘That’s where the Cancer Society with Diana (Power) and all the volunteers come in.’’