“You will go through two years of hell – but you’ll pull through.”
That was the verdict, equally harrowing and optimistic, that a former Tayside policeman was given upon being diagnosed with throat cancer.
The promise of getting better kept Brian Weir strong and focused during his gruelling treatment.
He is now just two check-ups away from being clear of the devastating illness.
Brian, 60, has told his story as part of the launch of a new £1million scheme to provide streamlined support for cancer patients.
Under Improving the Cancer Journey, every newly-diagnosed patient in Dundee will have access to a one-to-one support worker who will help with access to a range of services, from benefits advice and emotional support to help at home.
Macmillan Cancer Support has invested £1m into the project, which will see The Health and Social Care Partnership, Dundee City Council, Leisure and Culture Dundee, NHS Tayside and other third sector organisations working together.
Brian, a former CID officer and Superintendent, said: “I was diagnosed in late 2013 when I found a small lump on my neck, which I was told was the remnants of an ear infection.
“I then went to the doctors for something else and told the doctor about the lump.
“They referred me to Ninewells Hospital where I was diagnosed with cancer on the base of my tongue.
“I was told by the oncologist that I would go through two years of hell, but he was confident I would pull through.”
Brian had a neck dissection, with surgeons removing his lymph nodes.
The cancer had not spread anywhere else and in 2014, Brian began radiotherapy and chemotherapy.
Because of his throat swelling, he was unable to eat and had to be fed through a tube.
He added: “An important thing is to accept that you won’t feel better next week, or the week after that – recovery is a long-term process.
“At first I spent a lot of time on the sofa feeling sorry for myself.”
After a few months, Brian started going along to gym sessions for people battling illness at Dundee University’s Institute of Sport and Exercise.
Despite his fatigue, he saw a big improvement in his health and started exercising up to three times a week, making him “fitter than before the diagnosis”.
Brian is now involved with the Improving the Cancer Journey project and is enjoying his retirement.