Hitchin dad opens up about being made radioactive by cancer treatment

Ben Chapman with newborn son Joseph. Picture: Southern News & Pictures

Ben Chapman with newborn son Joseph. Picture: Southern News & Pictures - Credit: Southern News & Pictures (SNAP)

A Hitchin husband who is backing a new Cancer Research UK TV campaign has opened up about being forced to stay at least two metres away from his pregnant wife after being made radioactive by his cancer treatment.

Ben Chapman, 43, was given radioactive iodine treatment, a type of internal radiotherapy, after he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in April last year.

The treatment meant he couldn’t be closer than two metres to wife Stacey, 38, to avoid harming their baby.

After a five-and-a-half hour operation to remove his thyroid gland and three days spent in a lead lined room, Ben was finally allowed to go home, but he still had to be careful of everything he did.

“It was a weird and difficult situation,” he said.

“Suddenly I had to be aware of everything I touched or went near.

“If I touched the fridge or the kettle, I had to have a tea towel in my hand. Even when I was on my own, I had to remember what I had touched, like the iPad.”

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The most difficult part for Ben, though, was not being able to have any contact with his wife.

“Stacey was five months pregnant and all we wanted to do was to be together, but I was radioactive so I couldn’t be near her,” he said.

“At that stage of the pregnancy, evenings for Stacey and I had been sitting on the sofa watching TV and I could put my hand on her stomach and feel the baby kick. Now I had to sit at the other side of the room.”

Although Ben will have to thyroxine everyday for the rest of his life to replace the hormones the thyroid gland normally makes, he has completed his treatment and returned to work.

The couple also have newborn son Joseph and, despite the difficult situation, they believe it has made their family stronger.

“I’m fine and I feel lucky,” said Ben.

“Looking back, it was tough but we definitely laughed more than we cried. And there are positives that have come out of it.

“Stacey and I handled it beautifully and we have come out of it stronger. We have upped our family game with my step-son Jakob too. And of course we have Joseph – he keeps me awake at night which adds to the tiredness, but I’m not complaining about that.”

The couple are backing the new Cancer Research ‘Right Now’ adverts, which show people getting back to normal life and how acting right now can save someone’s life.

To find out more about the ‘Right Now’ campaign, visit cruk.org.

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