Skip to main content
Alan overcoming illness

Alan’s story of overcoming serious illness

Find out how we supported Alan and his family after an illness until he was ready to return to work. 

At the age of 52 I had never been in the hospital in my life. Then, out of the blue, I was diagnosed with a serious illness — prostate cancer. At first, I thought — that’s ok! A bit of positive attitude and I’ll be alright in six–eight weeks after the operation. But 10 months later I still couldn’t walk properly.

After the surgery, I was told to expect a fairly straightforward recovery. So, when I collapsed in pain around three weeks in, I knew things weren’t right. I couldn’t move or speak so I was rushed into A&E. It took nine months, another four or five A&E visits and another operation to find out what was wrong. It turned out that I’d had a post-surgery infection.

After I came back from the hospital, it became clear that I wouldn’t be able to go back to work anytime soon.

Reality of serious illness

This was a big change from my usual day-to-day routine. I’d been a telecoms maintenance engineer for same company since I left school 34 years ago and was used to problem-solving and being active. I was now stuck at home, using crutches and a stairlift to get around.

That’s when my wife Sharon and I started talking about how we were going manage financially — we have two teenage daughters so a significant drop in income was going to have a huge effect on the whole family. We were lucky to have some savings we could use until I could work again.

But two to three months became four, and we thought — hang on, we need to do something about this. We’d started the process for claiming Universal Credit which was incredibly stressful. I was thinking about other benefits I had access to, and I knew that Foothold could help so I thought I’d give them a call.

 

Getting financial support

Jonas was great — he talked me through the different kinds of support I could have, and applying was really straightforward too.

The financial support following my illness has alleviated so many problems for us. I can’t express how much it helped.

It’s enabled us to live a life rather limit the heating at home or having our daughters miss out on things. We’ve kept life as normal as it can be for the girls — their happiness is the most important thing for me.

We were also able to go away for a few days as a family to Dorset. It was nice to get away from everything for a while. I don’t think we would’ve been able to do it without the support, simply because of the limited finances. It was an absolute godsend for us.

I’m getting better day by day and have just received a job offer which I’m very excited to take up! The last year or so has been a big commitment for the entire family. My daughters are in college now, and have their own challenges, like any other teenager, I suppose. But we’ve dealt with it all as a family, and I’ve always had a smile on my face.

If you or your partner are struggling to work because of an illness, you’re not alone. Our team is ready to listen and help. Get in touch with us now. 

SUPPORT FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY, STRAIGHT TO YOUR INBOX

Sign up to our mailing list to receive expert advice to help you improve your financial, mental and physical wellbeing, so that you can live well every day. We'll also send you the latest news and updates, and information on how you can get involved with Foothold and support the engineering community.

An image showing someone's hands holding a mobile phone. The phone is displaying a version of the Foothold monthly newsletter.
A graphic featuring a photo of blog author Andy Thornton along with his name and title (cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist)

The power of conversation

Andy shares why a simple conversation can be so powerful – and how really listening is so important

View post
Michael Hargreaves, author of How Foothold’s new Engineering Neurodiverse Futures programme can support you to achieve your career goals

How our neurodiversity support is helping neurodiverse engineers to live well and thrive

Our Communications Officer Michael explores how our neurodiversity support is making a difference to the wellbeing of neurodiverse community members.

View post
A graphic featuring a photo of blog author Andy Thornton along with his name and title (cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist)

Understanding empathy: how to be kinder to others

In Part 2 his 2-part blog series on empathy, cognitive behavioural hypnotherapist Andy Thornton explores how you can be kinder to others.

View post