Last summer, John Haywood, 46, spotted a bruise on his ankle but thought he’d just bashed it somewhere.
Weeks later, it was still there and he happened to mention it to his dermatologist in passing.
The Greater Manchester Police copper decided to have it examined, and was shocked to discover he actually had a rare type of cancer called sarcoma, which can affect any part of the body.
He was dealt a devastating double blow just one month later when further tests revealed a lymphoma, another type of cancer completely unrelated to the sarcoma.
John, who lives in Bury with wife Claire O’Rourke,44, and their eight-year-old daughter, said: ‘If I had to sum up how I felt about the double diagnosis in one word it would be shock.
‘I’m a very active person and I love my work and my family, so to hear that I was so ill was incredibly difficult.
‘At that point everything changes.’
When it first appeared, the bruise was about the size of a 50p coin and John says it was ‘quite innocuous’.
He added: ‘It wasn’t sore or raised or itchy, it just looked like a bruise or maybe a burst capillary.’
During a visit to his dermatologist, he mentioned the bruise and the doctor arranged for him to have a punch biopsy, which involves a skin sample being taken for testing.
After the diagnosis further tests followed, which tragically revealed John was also suffering from a lymphoma, a type of blood cancer that affects part of the immune system.
He was able to make sense of the diagnosis with the help of his wife Claire, a former nurse who now is a director for an NHS body called Greater Manchester Cancer.
John said: ‘Having Claire by my side was definitely a blessing.
‘She knows all about what I am going through so has been really good at helping me along the way and giving me support and advice.’
The couple, who live in Bury, say one of the most difficult moments of the journey so far was telling their only child, daughter Ellie, about her dad’s illness.
John said: ‘We had to sit her down and tell her what was happening.
‘We decided it was the right thing to do and ultimately I think it was for the best.’
John began treatment for the sarcoma on his ankle in December.
He had two surgeries on his leg in an attempt to have the cancer removed.
Unfortunately, neither surgery was successful and he will now have to undertake a five-week course of radiotherapy, beginning on Monday (27 July).
John also had radiotherapy for the lymphoma, which began in March, and last month he received the news that it had been successfully treated.
John said: ‘To hear the lymphoma had been successfully treated was incredible.
‘After hearing so much bad news it was amazing for something good to finally happen.’
John has been treated at The Christie, a cancer treatment centre, in Oldham and he says he can’t praise them enough.
Currently, his prognosis for the sarcoma is unclear but he wants to remain positive.
He said: ‘I know the road ahead is a difficult one but I’m maintaining a good, while also realistic, attitude about it.’
John posts about his journey on his Twitter account and Claire has been doing a number of running challenges to raise money for Lymphoma Action, the UK’s only charity dedicated to lymphoma.
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