I live in the East End of London and own my flat. I have a brain tumour. I’m dying – it’s inoperable, and I’m halfway through my third round of chemo.
I try to live my life to the full, in four-week sprints, with a round of chemo coming up every month.
When I was 25, I had a job paying a very decent wage. I bought the flat then. My critical illness insurance has paid out, and that means I have paid off most of the mortgage.
I have stopped work. The last full-time salaried job I had I chucked in this time last year.
I live on benefits and my savings. Because I was sensible, I always paid into a pension. I’ve now cashed some of that in. I lead a very, very frugal life. I have no car, no credit cards, and a bicycle. I’ve always hated being in debt.
I used to work in recruitment. I went to a normal comprehensive in Suffolk, then did engineering at university and then came to London. I quite like spreadsheets and planning. By the age of 25 I was earning more money than I knew what to do with. I still have a copy of a payslip where I had a take-home of more than £10,000.
I bought the flat in 2005 for £189,000 with a deposit of just £9,000. It’s now worth about £400,000. I suppose if I were younger and buying now I would certainly not be able to afford it.
I was diagnosed in 2010, and had my first surgery in 2011. It’s growing really quickly.
I’ve been separated from my wife for the last 18 months and we’re about to get divorced.
I won’t pretend that it hasn’t been tough, because it has. I’ve had to do a lot of soul searching.
But I’m not lonely, I have a good social life and the next thing I’m going to do is to get a dog.
I’ve had a good life, I’ve travelled a lot, done most things. I don’t like the idea of the bucket list of things to do before you die. I want to go on with the things I already do in my life – go camping, start a fire, shoot my bow and arrow – and I don’t want a list where I have to go and swim with dolphins or the like. These things seem very finite to me. Maybe I’m just too cynical, although equally, even with my condition, I don’t think the world is out to get you.
Everything has become the new normal. I’m not allowed to drive. Sometimes you think you could take out credit cards and buy a Porsche or something, knowing you won’t have to pay it back. But it’s just not worth it. And bicycles are cheap.
My monthly spending is now about £500. It’s not a lot of money. I cycle whenever I can. I don’t go to fancy restaurants. But then I don’t deny myself completely.
I go to Lidl for food shopping and it doesn’t cost me much at all. I just don’t understand how people can be so extravagant with their bills. My biggest bill is the £235-a-year management charge for the flat. My mobile is £12 a month, broadband £20, water £20 and council tax £90.
I still have savings from when I worked for Comic Relief. They paid me £45,000 a year as a product manager looking after the website, and I saved £1,000 a month.
I actually only just sorted out the will. Something in me made me put off doing it for a long time. The money will go to my mother, my sister and my current girlfriend. She’s a superstar.
The Macmillan nurses have been really great. They put me in contact with a company that helps you write a will and gave me a lot of advice.
I’m on universal credit, as they have assessed me as not fit for work – I receive about £250 a month. I got a Macmillan grant of £350.
None of this has come easily: it’s been painful. What I see is people getting so cross with the world. I don’t think it’s helpful – just chill out a bit. I loved the film Paddington 2. If you smile and you’re polite, then everything will be all right. That’s how I try to spend every day.
As told to Patrick Collinson
If you are affected by the issues in this story, you can contact Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 0000