John Taylor

“I feel like I can talk openly and honestly because everyone is in the same boat”, says CAST member John Taylor.

John, who has a type of blood cancer called Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia (CLL), has attended the Creative and Support Therapy group for 18 months and said it has had a big impact on his mental wellbeing.

He first attended the group after being referred from Christies following a bone marrow transplant.

Speaking about his illness, John, 62, from Blackburn, said: “I was diagnosed years ago, but the symptoms didn’t really kick in until about 2011 when my immune system started failing.

“I got sent to Christies for a clinical trial, I’ve had a bone marrow transplant and I’ve had two cycles of three different chemotherapy tablets. The doctors can’t stop it, but they are trying to slow it down.”

He said: “I felt very down. I felt like things weren’t right and I was getting depressed so they sent me here for support. At first, I was a bit sceptical, but I got chatting with the other members and I feel like I can talk openly and honestly because everyone is in the same boat.”

John now looks forward to his weekly visit to East Lancashire Hospice where he chats with familiar faces while learning new skills.

He said: “At the group, we make things and I have learnt lots of new skills.”

He has particularly enjoyed making a mosaic clock and has tried his hand at glass painting.

“I have really got into it. I’m so glad I gave it a chance.”

John also accesses the Hospice at Home service to help him live independently, and has enjoyed some of the complimentary therapies on offer.

He added: “I didn’t think Reiki would do any good but it was out of this world. I felt the benefits for days after.

“They are so supportive here at the hospice. It definitely helps me coming here every Thursday. I don’t know what I would do without their support.”