When John Baker started suffering agonising pain in his mouth he thought it might be caused by ulcers, but within weeks of a cancer diagnosis he had undergone drastic surgery.
The 68-year-old was told he had mouth cancer in August 2012. He underwent a 16-and-a-half-hour operation to have three-quarters of his tongue removed and part of his jaw.
Metalwork was inserted into his chin and a skin graft, using flesh from his leg, helped rebuild his jaw.
Further treatment included chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
The treatment left Mr Baker with impaired speech and unable to eat normally, relying on a feeding tube.
His confidence was also low and then he learned about Macmillan Cancer Support’s grant scheme, which has given him £200 to pursue a hobby and give him enjoyment every day.
Mr Baker, who is now in remission, said: “It was because I drank and smoked that I got cancer. It’s just one of those things and I have to get on with life.”
His wife of 30 years, Jennifer, said: “He wouldn’t have said that a few months ago. He was very down about what had happened and low on confidence. He liked model trains but we didn’t have the money to pursue it – then I found out about Macmillan grants through Sarah, a Macmillan head and neck cancer nurse.”
A Macmillan grant is a one-off payment for adults, young people or children with cancer. It covers a wide range of needs, such as clothes, bills or a break.
Every week more than 600 people receive a grant from Macmillan Cancer Support.
In Mr Baker’s case, it was £200, which he is now using to expand his model railway.
Mrs Baker said: “He seems much happier now that he can spend some time on a hobby. He was spending a lot of time sitting in front of the television or sleeping. Now he has something which can keep him busy.”
Mr Baker added: “I can’t really go out anywhere. I can go down to the shops but it’s not like I can go far as I have to use a line for feeding. The grant has meant I’ve been able to buy more pieces for the railway.”
Mr Baker, of Eccleshill, also goes to a support group for people affected by head and neck cancer called the Croakies.
He used to work as a mechanical engineer, before being made redundant in 2008. Before his cancer diagnosis, he had never had any major health issues.
Mrs Baker said: “I can sum up the whole experience in one word, ‘hell’, but I’m just so happy to still have him.”