George overcomes cancer to play for Scotland

George seen here competing for Scotland Over 50s
George seen here competing for Scotland Over 50s

When George Guy was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer four years ago the international hockey player set himself the target of playing in the next Masters World Cup in Holland.

Even given his lifelong involvement in high level sport, this was a huge achievement for the 61-year-old from Bonnyrigg, following chemotherapy and surgery to remove his oesophagus and top third of his stomach.

George is now involved in promoting a service which helps people in Midlothian get active after cancer treatment.

The Midlothian Living Well After Treatment project also offers practical, financial and emotional support, including benefits advice and employment support, to people affected by cancer.

It is part of the Transforming Care After Treatment (TCAT) programme - a partnership between Macmillan Cancer Support, the Scottish Government, NHS and local authorities - which aims to improve the care every cancer patient in Scotland receives after their treatment ends.

“During treatment and for about six months afterwardsyou are pretty well looked after,” says George. “After that you feel as if you have been left on your own and it’s now up to you to get on with your life.

“Being part of TCAT has been an eye-opener for me. I have discovered things I didn’t know existed. I didn’t know where to find the information. Having everything in one place makes a huge difference.

“It also helps you realise you’re not alone. There are other people who have gone through the same things as you and they can help you. You will be signposted to things out there that will be of use to you.”

George, who was made redundant from his IT job two years before being diagnosed with cancer, says being part of the Midlothian Living Well After Treatment projecthas also helped him personally.

“I have been involved in getting the website going,” he says. “It’s great from a psychological point of view. It gives you a sense of worth which can take some time to return after what you’ve gone through. You feel you’re doing something useful to help people in your situation.

“It’s also nice to give something back to people who have helped me. Macmillan have been excellent. They have been very helpful. I had a couple of Macmillan grants which helped keep me going.”

George, who also coaches hockey, is a good example of someone who has managed to return to an active life after treatment.

However he admits that even with his sporting background it wasn’t always plain sailing.

“In hospital after surgery the physiotherapists come round and try to get people on their feet. When you’re recovering from cancer, getting your backside off the chair and getting active is difficult. You don’t feel like doing anything.

“Because of my experience in high level sport I was really keen. Instead of five steps, I would be doing ten. Instead of walking to the ward door, I would be going for getting along the corridor.

“However, because I had a smaller stomach after surgery I lost four-and-a-half stone in weight. I had problems with energy because I couldn’t get enough food in me and would get dizzy.

“I still have a few side effects. It’s just a question of getting on with rebuilding my life.”