Man 'freed from depression' after terminal diagnosis made him embrace life

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Duncan was told by doctors he had stage four brain cancer in February 2021
Duncan was told by doctors he had stage four brain cancer in February 2021

A man has told how he was free from depression and encouraged to "make the most of every second" after being handed a terminal cancer diagnosis.

Duncan Campbell, from Anniesland in Glasgow, was told by doctors he had stage four brain cancer in February 2021. Prior to his diagnosis, the 30-year-old battled with depression from the age of 15.

The former GHK Rugby Club player told the Daily Record: "The diagnosis woke me up. It encouraged me to make the most of every single second.

“Before my diagnosis, I was constantly criticising myself; when I tried to plan for the future, I was overcome with anxiety. Now, I live in the present, as I have no other choice. I’ve got a terminal disease so there’s a rational reason to feel down, but in a strange way it allows me to stop worrying."

Man 'freed from depression' after terminal diagnosis made him embrace life rriddqixxiqezinvHe said the diagnosis 'freed him from depression'

Duncan has been through around 20 MRIs, surgery on his brain, chemotherapy and radiotherapy. After surgery, he was in a wheelchair for more than two months. He learned to walk again using the AlterG machine - used by Andy Murray to return from injury.

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He continued: “It shouldn’t have taken a diagnosis to free myself from the mental pain which stopped me from living my life. I suffered from depression from the age of 15. My brain was attacking itself. It knew all my weaknesses, shortcomings and fears. It was picking me apart every second of every day. Now I’ve found a route to happiness; being able to share my story and help others has given me a purpose which has helped to overcome depression.“

In the wake of his diagnosis, Duncan wrote a book to encourage others to make the most of their lives. He hopes the autobiography, The Suicide Notes, will give others suffering depression the new lease of life he has experienced. He's preparing to launch the book with a one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this month. During the spoken word performance, which will take place at Gladstone's Land from August 14 to 25, he will share lessons learned from his experience.

Duncan said: “This book gives an unfiltered insight into my mind going through depression, being diagnosed with terminal cancer, and finding happiness. I have a moral obligation to tell my story, as it can help people who are going through depression. And far too many people are going through that - suicide is the biggest killer of young men.“The book is going to help people understand what their friend might be going through, which could help them save a life. For people who care about somebody they think might be struggling, it’s hard to have that conversation. I hope my legacy can be to make it a bit easier for those conversations to start.

“I don’t know what I can do while I’m still alive to prevent people from experiencing terminal cancer, but I do hope the book and my show can help to prevent people from committing suicide."

He continued: "I am so lucky to have the chance to be able do two things I’ve always dreamed of; performing at the Fringe and publishing a book. I never thought these things would happen to me. I was set on suicide.

"Depression is a really draining way of existing. One impulsive moment could have robbed me of all these bonus years. I’m incredibly lucky to be alive and I’m grateful for every second I have." The book is available via www.thesuicidenotesbook.com.

If you are struggling and need to talk, the Samaritans operate a free helpline open 24/7 on 116 123. Alternatively you can email [email protected] or visit their site to find your local branch.

Ruth Suter

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