When Stephen Barton found out his cancer treatment had failed, he decided to retire from his work as a hospital chaplain and start doing all of the things he had always wanted to do.
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer among UK men and for the past ten years, Stephen Barton has been knowingly living with it. After diagnosis, Stephen continued to work for three years but when doctors broke the news that the first-line treatment had been unsuccessful, he retired. 'I knew there was more to life than work,' he explains. 'Now I am living life to the full but I also leave plenty of space for just being, rather than always doing.
'Cancer is complex and it can be extremely confusing and difficult to live with. My wife and sons have been a great help and I am pleased I have been able to do several amazing things since retiring.' Stephen is spending precious time with his first grandchild as well as enjoying many once-in-a-lifetime experiences.
'I'd always wanted to write a book about my late father's experiences in the Second World War. It was an extremely important part of his life, but it was something he never talked about. I transcribed his diaries, and retraced his footsteps through France and Belgium, getting inside his head as a 25-year-old soldier. I'm now self-publishing the memoirs for my family.'
Language of love
'I have continued learning during my retirement and completed an A Level in Bengali. This is my wife's language and something I never expected I would be able to achieve. It demanded a lot of work but I am really proud of it.'
Power of mind
'During a ten-day retreat at a Buddhist Centre in Hereford, I learnt about my strength of mind and capacity to be still as the retreat was silent. We were up at 4am and spent 11 hours a day meditating. It really was a fantastic experience that taught me how strength of mind can be an incredibly powerful thing. I'm not sure I'd do it again, but I do meditate every day.'
Booking time for others
'Time is even more important when yours could be limited and since retiring, I've become a volunteer at a local primary school, helping eight-year-olds practise their reading skills. This was something my mum used to do and it is something I really enjoy. The children really seem to thrive with the one-on-one attention.'
A mountain to climb
'My career took me across the world from Bradford to Bangladesh, but the Jordanian desert was my destination of choice for a charity trek during the first year of my retirement. We spent five days trekking through the desert, which was just an amazing experience. We raised funds for a prostate cancer charity, which has given me so much invaluable support, as well as WoW (Wellbeing of Women).'
Stephen Barton is a patient at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital and is being treated by University of Birmingham researchers.