Guy Hadland is the Head of Sales at Aqualytix, specialists in water treatment and Legionella control. But over the summer, he was nicknamed ‘Chemo Kid’ by fellow patients while being treated for stage 4 Hodgkin lymphoma.
For Movember – a month dedicated to men’s health awareness – Guy tells us how he overcame the physical and mental challenges associated with his cancer diagnosis and treatment. And how he felt when he saw the scan pictures that showed he was cancer-free.
This Time Last Year
Guy returned to work a month ago after 16 weeks off.
This time last year, he started complaining of a burning sensation all over his skin. Even his colleagues would notice him fidgeting with his clothes as the material became an irritation.
At around the same time, he developed a chest infection where he would cough uncontrollably, which lasted until Christmas. A lump came up on his chest, which a GP attributed to a chest plate injury caused by prolonged coughing.
Fast forward to March 2023 – after a series of tests, scans, uncertainty, and misdiagnosis – a haematologist told Guy he had cancer of the lymphatic system, known as Hodgkin lymphoma.
Guy said: “Before my eventual diagnosis, I was angry because ‘Limbo Land’ is a very frightening place to be. I was frustrated with being passed around from doctor to doctor. So, I told the medical team I would be on their case throughout. No needless waiting, no being passed from pillar to post. I pushed and pushed. I turned up when I couldn’t get answers. I forced my way in. That was my way of handling it. I owned my case, and it’s a good job because by then, I was stage 4.”
A Grueling Chemo Schedule
Days after his diagnosis, Guy was tested to see if he could undergo an aggressive treatment plan consisting of 22 weeks of chemotherapy. It would involve the hospital administering a cycle of eight hours of chemotherapy for seven days, with nine days of rest.
Guy passed the test, and his gruelling schedule began. He added: “It was awful. I remember the first week when I was taking 28 tablets daily to neutralise the intense effects of chemotherapy. I had to drink four litres of fluid to pass six litres before they’d let me home each night. The nausea and extreme fatigue knocked me out, and I was glad of the break before the next cycle.”
Over the weeks, Guy suffered other side effects, including hair loss, numbness in his fingertips, mouth and jaw aches, dry skin, migraines, and brain fog. He also had an incredible appetite.
Guy explained: “I had to increase my calories to around 5,000 per day. I craved pies, and luckily, my local butcher didn’t disappoint, supplying me with delicious and nutritious pies each week.”
Always A Ten
Despite the beating his body was taking, Guy decided he wouldn’t be knocked down by cancer. He attacked it head-on, always with a smile on his face.
This was important to prevent his teenage daughter, Darcie, from getting anxious. He was also aware that his wife was losing her mother at the same time, so he wanted to be strong and stay positive throughout.
His infectious positivity made him popular at the hospital, where he received his chemotherapy with around 70 other patients.
I’d tell jokes, make tea, and try to make the time we all spent together happier. If patients felt down, I’d go mad at them and try to get them into a more positive frame of mind. They used to say, ‘Uh-oh, Chemo Kid is off on one of his rants again!’
“But the nurses confessed that the patients loved it and started to ask what time I’d be in! I’ve even been asked to return and deliver patient talks.”
– Guy Hadland
A Walking Miracle
In June, Guy’s doctor said he’d be cutting his chemotherapy short while showing him the scan results that showed he was cancer-free.
Guy explained: “He told me I was a walking miracle. My first reaction was, ‘You’d better not be joking!’ I took photos of the scan results on his screen as proof, showed all my new friends on the ward, and cried for about an hour.”
Despite his body being battered from the chemo, Guy began an intensive 9-week fitness regime. He said: “I got upset seeing the photos of what the chemotherapy had done to me. This was my way of putting the chapter behind me.”
Time And Choice
Guy’s now back at work with a new perspective on life.
“I’ve always loved work, and the Aqualytix team has massively supported me during my cancer diagnosis and treatment. But I don’t stress the small stuff anymore. I appreciate it. Everything seems easy in comparison to cancer. Nothing’s difficult.
“When you’ve been through what I and millions of others have, it makes you realise that if you have two things – time and choice – you’re winning at life. These are the most precious things in the world: time on your hands and the choice to do and be what you want.
“I’d like to thank all my colleagues and customers for the messages that helped me through the dark times. Stay positive, everyone. Life’s for living, and that’s what I intend to do.”