After John Cranfield recovered from his own cancer diagnosis, he wanted to use his experience to help others treading the same path.

“I’m a great believer in the power of hope,” says John, who was treated for Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma in 2003.

“People know what I’ve gone through, and I’m often asked to talk to people who may be going through a similar journey.”

John enquired about getting involved with the Irish Cancer Society’s Peer Support service, in which he assisted for a decade. He still recalls particular conversations that stood out to him.

“At one stage I was on a nice holiday abroad having a lovely lunch looking out over the ocean. Next thing my phone rings, and it was a lady from Cork who had just been diagnosed.

“We spoke for about half an hour, and while we were signing off she said: ‘Can I ask you two questions?’ I said yes absolutely. She asked if I still work, and I said yes I do. She said ‘that’s fantastic. And one last question – can I ask where you are right now?’

“I laughed and told her what I was doing. She burst out crying and asked: ‘Will I be doing that one day?’, and I said that all going well of course you will. That was a really powerful moment for me.”

At 73 years of age John is still actively involved in his local rugby club in south Dublin, and has held various voluntary roles with his former school down through the years.

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I had some great advice from my oncologist once, he said ‘don’t waste your time’, so I try to do as much as I can.

“I think mine is a positive story, and I think to myself every day how lucky I am to be here. I try to make the most of things every day because 20 years ago I did think I was going to die. But I came through it.”

Reflecting on his own experience, John has some valuable advice for others who may find themselves in similar situations to where he once was.

“I always say to people that it is a journey. To me, cancer is like a candle that never quite fully goes out: it’s always burning away in the background, and although it may go down to a flicker it’s always there somewhere in the back of your mind.

“I would also say to have faith in your medical team. If you do that it will make things a lot easier to get through. And of course, don’t look up random information on the internet!”

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