Robert Allen attempted to take his own life on January 20th last year in Bathgate where he lives with his wife, Lesley, and their four-year-old son Cameron, after pressures of becoming a parent left him feeling “like a failure of a dad.”
But the next day a HMRC compliance officer tested his blood at an emergency doctor’s appointment in Kingsgate Medical Practice which showed irregularities with his liver.
The 38-year-old was booked in for an ultrasound which confirmed harmless fat build up around his liver but also revealed a 6cm tumour on his left kidney which was silently killing the father on one.
Robert and his wife, 35, were told by doctors in the Western General that this type of cancer is generally symptomless and is usually only found when it has spread throughout the body and can’t be stopped.
While the office worker said he would never wish anyone to feel as low as he did last January, he stressed that it started the “dominoes effect” which ultimately saved his life.
He said: “Trying to kill myself is what ended up saving my life and I feel like the luckiest man in the world.”
On April 8th in 2019, Robert had a five-hour operation which successfully removed his kidney and he has since been given the ‘all clear.’
He continued: "If I hadn’t hit rock bottom and gone to the doctors I would never have had the blood test or ultrasound which led to the discovery of the cancerous tumor and ultimately saved my life."
Since recovering from surgery, Robert says his mental health has changed like “day and night”.
'My daddy's not sick anymore'
He has been working closely with The Changing Rooms, a charity run by Big hearts and the Scottish Association for Mental Health (SAMH) which promotes men’s mental wellbeing.
He said: “I met guys that were going through similar things to me and they helped me realise that was putting so much pressure on myself with paying bills and providing for the family.
"I now know that there is a lot more to being a good dad than that. It’s about spending time together making memories.
"The first thing I did when I could walk again was go to the Bathgate Gala Day with Cameron, who walked around hand-in-hand with me telling everyone 'my daddy’s not sick anymore, my daddy’s walking with me.'
“My suicide attempt and cancer diagnosis changed all three of our lives. I shudder to think what could have been, it sounds mad to say but the whole situation is what turned out to save my life."
One year on from his life-saving operation, Robert is getting ready to set off on a mammoth cycle from London to Amsterdam to raise money for and awareness of cancer and mental health.
He said: “With the support of The Changing Room I was able to build the strength and resilience to defeat the disease and change my life for the better. I owe it to them to do all I can to help change the lives of others.
"Male mental health still has such a stigma around it and I want to tell my story to show that things can get better and help someone else working through similar issues."
Donate to his fundraising page here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/teambigheartsIf you have been affected by what you have read in this article and need someone to talk to, the Samaritans 24/7 confidential and non judgemental phone support. Call: 116 123 from any phone for free support of contact 0330 094 5717 (local charges apply).