The Marie Curie Helper Service is the best thing to happen to me in a very long time


Danny, Michael and Brenda Blethyn
Michael (middle), Danny and actress Brenda Blethyn during filming for tonight's Text Santa show

When Michael Rugman was diagnosed with bowel cancer the day before his 47th birthday, he was living happily with his girlfriend and daughter and working as a warehouse operative. However, both his family and work friends found it hard to cope with his cancer diagnosis and Michael, now 51, found himself feeling very much alone. His partner and daughter moved out and his friends fell away, Michael believes probably because they didn’t know how to talk to him about cancer. At his loneliest, Michael says he would walk to his local bus stop just to be around people. His only companion was his dog Finn.

A new outlook

Being matched with Marie Curie Helper volunteer Danny, 60, completely changed Michael’s outlook on life and has provided him with companionship at a difficult time in his life. Michael says, “As soon as Danny walked through my front door I knew we would get on. He has been there for me from the word go and nothing is too much trouble for him. We both love football and spend hours watching and talking about the game. I don’t see Danny as my ‘helper’… rather I call him my friend.” Michael and Danny, who have been meeting up for almost a year, spend time chatting, feeding the ducks at a local park and watching and discussing all things football related. Michael says, “In my opinion the Marie Curie Helper service is the best thing to happen to me in a very long time.  Before the service I was in a very bad place. I had little or no contact with other people, and if it wasn’t for Finn, I really think I would have given up.”

"I knew I'd made the right decision"

For Danny, the decision to become a Helper volunteer has benefited him too. He says, “Time with Michael is fun and I’m very grateful that I have gotten to know him over that last number of months.” Danny says the training provided by Marie Curie was excellent and answered many of his questions. “Of course I was a little nervous when I first met Michael, but by the time I left his house for the first time I knew I’d made the right decision. He’s a great guy and very easy to get along with. Michael is now on his fifth round of palliative chemo – he admits that Danny played a key role in his decision to continue treatment. He would recommend the Helper service to others and believes it has really improved the quality of his life. “It’s not easy asking for help, trust me," he says. "But I’m so glad I did. The team at Marie Curie have been brilliant – they talked me through the whole process and in terms of matching me to the right helper… well I think they did a great job.” Visit our website for more information about Text Santa and how Marie Curie and people like Kevin will benefit. Donate to Text Santa and help with the expansion of our Helper service.