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  • Brad’s Story

    March 22, 2024

    Brad’s Story

    Brad Thompson, 32, is a dad to a 3-year-old, husband and self-employed personal trainer. He’s also a son who’s lost a dad to cancer. Brad’s dad, Bob, died aged 54 in November 2016 after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. Brad, who also has two brothers, was obviously devastated at the loss of a much-loved dad and friend.

    Although Brad expected to feel the loss deeply, he realised after a few months that his feelings were out of the ordinary.

    “I was constantly living in the past,” said Brad. “It was affecting my decisions, my relationships, everything. I was due to get married and I couldn’t muster any energy or excitement about my forthcoming wedding. I was just very flat, numb and I felt like I wasn’t living, just existing.”

    “My fiancé was worried, and she was the one who contacted Cavendish Cancer Care. I wouldn’t have done it myself; I think I thought that it wasn’t for me. I didn’t have cancer and felt like I was taking the service away from someone who needed it.”

    After an assessment, in 2017 Brad was offered some sessions of grief counselling with Cavendish therapist Vicky, although Brad admits he still had some misgivings.

    “When I turned up for my first session, I saw people in the waiting room who were clearly poorly, and I felt guilty and a bit silly. When I told people I was going for counselling I felt there was a stigma about it, as though as a man I should be just getting on with it. I almost didn’t go through with it but I’m so glad I did.”

    “Vicky was quite direct and honest with me, and I needed that. She didn’t try to make me feel better but made me confront and reflect on my feelings. It was great to talk to someone who didn’t know my dad and I didn’t need to feel worried I would upset her in any way with anything I said.”

    “She made me realise that I couldn’t change what had happened and that I needed to live alongside my grief rather than let it control me.”

    Brad later had a second block of counselling, again with Vicky, in 2021 after the birth of his own son triggered some difficult feelings and unresolved questions.

    “It was after these counselling sessions that I decided I should raise some money for Cavendish if I could”, said Brad. “I suppose I still felt a sort of guilt in some way about using the service when I was healthy myself, even though everyone at Cavendish had explained that the service is not only for those diagnosed with cancer. Due to my job as a personal trainer I’m quite fit so in November 2021 I completed a ‘Row-Vember’ challenge, where I rowed 10km a day for each day of the month. Around this time, I was also diagnosed with a form of arthritis so that added an extra challenge however I really enjoyed it. I had some great chats with other people whilst rowing which also helped my mental health too, and I raised £1000!”

    Brad’s next fundraising challenge is the Redbrik Chesterfield 10k in March 2024 where he’s aiming for a time of 52 minutes or less.

    Brad Thompson

    Brad’s advice to anyone thinking of getting counselling for grief is, “Just do it, having an expert guiding you is so valuable. I realised I can only be a good parent, son and husband if I’m at my best. The counselling has made me braver about having difficult conversations, which has helped in so many parts of my life. I can’t thank Cavendish enough and am so pleased to be able to help with fundraising so more people can benefit from their support.”