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As I undertake interviews around the region regarding my books, particularly my memoirs, ‘Me and My Shadow – memoirs of a cancer survivor’ it keeps my mind on a constant trajectory of reflection. Therefore, I felt compelled to share an extract from the final chapter of my book – chapter 15, ‘My Final Thoughts.’

Almost fifty years ago, I was the frightened patient, mentally scarred, and physically feeble. Then, thirty-seven years ago; I was the father of a child diagnosed with leukaemia, terrified as to what lay ahead, but, until only a few months ago, I was the nurse specialist, brimming with both confidence and pride - prescribing chemotherapy for those individuals with the same cancers as Donna and myself.

Truly a life-changing roller-coaster ride like no other, but I would not change it for the world as my fate was woven into the tapestry of life when John and Ruby announced the arrival of their son in 1957.

The long pathway of life is fraught with obstacles; some large, some small, but all need to be jumped. When cancer knocked at my door, I had little idea how to deal with its psychological burden. The kaleidoscope of emotional turbulence caused my mind to spin out of control, and I failed to manage my demons, or the ongoing dark thoughts following repeated treatment failures. The incomparable side effects that almost destroyed my feeble frame are memories that have moulded my personality today. Never will I forget how fortunate I am.

On several occasions, I almost grasped the irreversible handshake that suicide offered me, but, without the courage to complete that task, I suddenly realised that life is so short; it is a precious commodity unknown in its content, dimension and significantly its length. Life is not a rehearsal, it is for living, and it is a once-only opportunity to enjoy.

Our future is uncertain; no one knows what lies ahead, what fate has planned. Therefore, live life fully, enjoy it as if each day were your last, one day it will be, and you should have no remorse to leave behind as I leave behind no remorse or regret. No one person can deny anyone else the opportunity to enjoy life to the best of their ability.

Never look back on your life unless you are prepared to smile and be reflective, and never look forward unless you can dream - we all need dreams and we all need hope. Life can be cruel, and often difficult to negotiate, as I and many others have discovered, but it’s there to be enjoyed, and it is our responsibility to do so.

South Shields grandad who was diagnosed with 'incurable' cancer at 18 publishes children's book | ITV News Tyne Tees

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