Our client stories (JC Health & Wellbeing Supplement) – Michael Israel

To mark this year’s Men’s Health Week, one of our male clients talks about his experience of receiving a cancer diagnosis, his treatment, the side effects and Chai’s pivotal role.

Michael Israel, 60, was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma, a type of non-Hodgkin lymphoma in December 2020.

“In September 2020 I discovered a lump in my parotid gland, a salivary gland located below my ear. I just knew that something wasn’t right. After a visit to my GP a few weeks later, I was immediately referred to an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist at UCLH.

It was a difficult journey and following numerous blood tests, scans, and biopsies, I was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in December.

I began chemotherapy on the 27th of December and cycled to and from all six rounds. My last chemo was on the 13th of April and I am currently in remission. Hearing this news felt amazing as I believe every day is so special. However, follicular lymphoma is not usually considered to be curable and is viewed as more of a chronic disease.”

Speaking of how he came across Chai, Michael said: “I have been involved with Jewish charities all my life and I drive past the centre regularly, so I always knew it was there. But it was my friends who encouraged me to get in touch.

Being diagnosed at the height of the pandemic meant that I wasn’t physically able to come into Chai but this didn’t affect the level of support I received. Nicky Phillips, my Client Services Manager, called me regularly to check in. It was so reassuring hearing her voice. I have found the side effects from chemotherapy extremely challenging, especially as I was a food and wine advisor for many years. My taste profile has completely changed so the sessions over the phone with Chai’s Nutritionist/Dietician, Lana Pinshaw were extremely valuable. Luckily my taste is slowly improving but other side effects from my chemo included; hair loss, weight loss, tooth decay and changes to my bowel movements.

With the easing of lockdown restrictions, it meant I could come into the Chai centre and I was actually one of the first clients back through their doors! I was so impressed with the beautiful building, gardens and the warmth and welcome from everybody there. I am now benefitting from reflexology with Marion Nathan and healing with Michael Hartzel and Anton Shaw to help me deal with the impact of my chemotherapy.

I’d like to thank everyone at Chai – their ongoing support and care throughout my cancer journey has been absolutely amazing. Sometimes it can be hard to ask for support, especially for a man, but I’m so glad I did!”

How Chai can help our male clients:

  • Complementary Therapies to help with the side effects of treatment
  • Specialised counselling support
  • Dietary advice, personalised to your treatment needs
  • Practical advice about employment law, the benefits system and easing the financial burden and implications of cancer
  • Exercise and gym

For more information on Chai’s services, please call 020 8202 2211 or visit www.chaicancercare.org