Businessman Nigel Short will never forget Christmas Eve six years ago.
He had eight hours of surgery after being diagnosed the previous month with throat cancer. Seven weeks of radiotherapy and chemotherapy followed and even then he was told his chances of surviving five years were only 30%.
Overcoming the odds, Nigel can look forward to his first Christmas since being declared clear of the disease which showed initially as a lump in his neck.
He came through the ordeal thanks to care and treatment at Weston Park Hospital, keeping a blog of his progress.
The blog was designed to keep family and friends informed, but it was to attract 32,000 visitors from around the world, and was so popular that he has turned it into an online and printed book with the aim of selling 50,000 and raising £50,000 for Weston Park.
“I knew the internet was a powerful tool, but I was getting messages from Melbourne in Australia!” he said. “People were saying when you are well, come and see us! There were messages of support that really helped me and my family. My then partner, Sarah, described it as like a huge blanket of love, and it did feel like that.
“People would tell my family in the pub that they were reading it, and that they were hoping I’d be OK and they were praying for me.”
The idea of the blog emerged after Nigel, founder director of South Yorkshire business telecoms specialist supplier VOOT and, until recently, chairman of Sheffield Wednesday fans group Wednesdayite, started texting family and close friends about his diagnosis.
He says the £30 cost prompted him, “as a Yorkshireman”, to look for a cheaper all-round option! So he described his experiences in a free blog, which has formed the basis for the book, Nigel 1 Cancer 0, The Online Ramblings Of A Cancer Survivor. “Reading the blog was a bit depressing,” says the father-of-two, aged 46. “Your brain has a great capacity for shutting out pain. I didn’t realise how ill I was. “But after five years in remission, I’m officially cured and I am on top of the world. I have as much chance of getting it again as anybody.”
Nigel, who also works with a local business networking organisation called The Firm, is full of praise for Weston Park. “We are incredibly lucky in this city to have such a fantastic facility.”
He also describes his parents, Jeff and Freda, who live near him in Aston, as “absolutely amazing”.
The book is now on Kindle at £3.08 and is due soon in paperback at £6.99 through Solopreneur Publishing (www.thesolopreneur.co.uk).
In recent years, Nigel has raised money for Weston Park, Bluebell Wood Hospice and cystic fibrosis research through events such as sponsored cycle rides and swims across Lake Grasmere. Now the book is designed to help the hospital that helped him - and to give an insight into the treatment for throat cancer.