Being diagnosed with stage three anal cancer at the age of 35 has been an emotional rollercoaster for one Argyll man.
But Michael MacGregor of Lochgilphead says it has changed his life for the better.
Because it has made him see what is really important and what he really lives for.
The handyman for Argyll Community Housing Association (Acha) is looking forward to spending Christmas with his four-year-old daughter.
Earlier this year Michael, now 36, watched Lydia, then three, complete a sponsored fun run and raise cash for the Beatson where he was receiving treatment.
Michael desperately hoped to be out of hospital in time for the event, but unfortunately this was not to be.
And he was bursting with pride to learn that she raised £5,000 for the place where he was given such excellent care.
Michael first complained about an uncomfortable bump in January last year.
At first medics believed he was suffering from an ingrown hair, but the problem got worse.
Eventually in May he received his diagnosis and now he is urging anyone who spots something unusual to get it checked out as soon as possible.
Michael spent seven-and-a-half weeks in the Beatson in Glasgow undergoing chemo and radiotherapy between July and September.
Because he suffers from low levels of platelets, which help the blood clot, the treatment was particularly hard on him.
He described it as “brutal” but said that the excellent team and other patients at the cancer centre were like “a wee family” all fighting together which helped him to cope.
“I was given chemotherapy and radiotherapy at the same time. My skin started coming off. I was lying down, when I got off the bed my skin was still on it. It was brutal.”
The most important person who helped him to cope was Lydia.
Her mum Hannah Parker, 33, made the two-hour drive to Glasgow twice a week so that the wee one could be with her daddy.
Michael said: “The hardest part of saying bye to Lydia at the hospital was that I didn’t know if it was my last goodbye. Now being out, getting better and fighting this horrible situation makes me even stronger.
“Lydia had a wee cat. It died and we told her it went to heaven. She asked me if that was where I was going. It was heart-breaking. It puts you in a hole. You feel like you need to get through this because your daughter is thinking that.
“Hannah had told her, Daddy’s got a sore bum. To start with, she couldn’t jump up on me like she normally does.
“It was sad not being able to do the normal things with her but seeing her really lifted me up.”
He added: “It has been the hardest thing I have ever had to fight in every single way.
“If I could say something to everyone it would be go get every lump and bump looked at just to be safe. Fighting cancer is very hard but we can do it.
“And don’t bottle things up – it’s good to talk to someone about how you feel. Even if it’s embarrassing get it spat out, it makes you feel better.
“I couldn’t say thank you enough to everyone who has been there for me. My employer, Acha, has been amazing and been behind me the whole way.”
Looking to the future
The tumour has shrunk and he is preparing to undergo surgery.
Michael plans to stay over at Hannah’s on Christmas Eve so that he can watch Lydia open her presents on Christmas morning.
He now has a different outlook on life. “I’m not interested in going to the pub or anything. It is all about memories with people I love. I just want more time with Lydia, more time with family and friends.
“I look forward to every day I spend time with her. Every day you have got above ground is a good day.
‘It has changed my life for the better’
“I wake up and it is a bad day to start with because it’s sore. Then it gets better. If Hannah phones and asks me to pick up Lydia from school, it gives me something to look forward to.”
He added: “It wasn’t just my fight, it was the fight of everybody around me. Telling friends and family was hard. It is the big word that nobody wants to hear.
“I’m looking forward to getting back to my work. Hopefully surgery goes well and the cancer is all gone. We are going to have a wee party to say we beat it. I’m looking forward to doing normal things. Getting up every day and not having to be in pain.
“I would tell everyone to listen to the people that care for you and get anything unusual checked out.
“It changed my life for the better. It has shown me what’s really important in life.”