Mike Skinner’s Story

06th Jun 2023

“It is far less daunting going to your first full day of chemotherapy when you know what to expect”

RTC colleague Mike Skinner was first diagnosed with cancer in August 2022. Mike and his wife Maria, called upon long-term friend and Cancer Support Specialist Debbie De Jonge for reassurance and support when he was first diagnosed. Based at the Maggie’s Wirral Centre, Debbie was there to help explain things to Mike and Maria, giving them insight and forewarning of what to expect from certain treatments.

Maggie’s is a charity who supports those diagnosed with cancer as well as their families, every visit to one of their centres starts with a warm welcome, a cuppa, and a chance to talk with trusted experts.

Maggie’s Wirral are currently supporting 64% of the local cancer population. In 2022 the centre received 18,640 visits, including 11,025 people with cancer and 5,816 carers. Of these visits, 12,949 were from women and 5,392 from men. The Centre also received 1,799 other visits from healthcare professionals, architects, supporters, and general interest from people in the community.

Mike and his wife Maria share how Maggie's have supported them both when Mike was first diagnosed

“We were told by my Consultant Clinical Oncologist that the tumour and the secondaries had been detected early and the prognosis was good. Maria wanted to know what to expect during the treatment and Debbie explained what the radiotherapy and chemotherapy was likely to be like and what to expect as the treatment over the seven weeks progressed.”

“Debbie’s advice was a reassurance to Maria and also gave her focus on how best to help me through the highs and lows as the side-effects kicked in. It was knowing that certain things were ‘normal’ as your body reacts to the chemo and radiotherapy and understanding how the ‘process’ works.”

Finding out you have cancer changes your life, and the weeks after diagnosis can be the most difficult and challenging. Maggie’s are there to support from that moment. 

“Debbie regularly checked up on me to make sure I was following advice from the nurses, doctors and clinical specialists as well as making sure I was doing what was recommended to lessen the side-effects of treatments. Debbie was a useful link and connection to the people I was engaged with during my treatment – my Macmillan nurse, dieticians, and her ex-colleagues the Specialist Therapy Radiographers at the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre in Liverpool.”

“It is far less daunting going to your first full day of chemotherapy when you know what to expect and Debbie was a reassurance to Maria and me during and after the treatment. I have now had my second round of post-treatment tests and am in clinical remission.”

Some RTC colleagues went to visit the Maggie’s Wirral Centre and spoke with some of the centre visitors:

Rufus: "Maggie’s was the softest of places to land at the hardest of times for myself and Pippa’’

Sean: "I was scared about what I should or shouldn't say to my children. What do they need to know? They were six and three at the time, so I took advice from Kathy, a Bowel Cancer Specialist and Centre Head at Maggie's, and we decided to keep it very simple and just say I had a poorly tummy. This has worked well over the past 12 months, and they have been incredibly loving and caring during my recovery. Maybe there is one day in the future when I might share more details with them. I'm glad I don't have to worry about that right now."

To support Maggie’s centres who have supported people at RTC, RTC colleagues, friends and family are taking on the National Three Peaks Challenge on 21st June 2023. We are currently at 80% of our target of £5,000. To show support and to donate, please visit: Annie and the RTC North team is fundraising for Maggie's Centres (

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