A kind-hearted Teesside man who is defying cancer to help other people in their hour of need has won a special honour.
Terry Bytheway, who has been diagnosed with terminal prostate cancer, has won a Teesside Hero award from Teesside Philanthropic Foundation.
The selfless 68-year-old was already offering support to James Cook University Hospital patients as a therapeutic care volunteer at the time of his own cancer bombshell in January 2017.
It was a devastating blow for the Coulby Newham grandfather but he was determined not to let cancer get in his way – and it even inspired him to step up his voluntary efforts
“My cancer diagnosis could have been a point when I thought right I’m not going to do it anymore because I need to look after myself,” Terry said.
“But I thought I don’t want cancer to change my life. It increased my determination to carry on and made me even more keen to help others.”
Terry is a familiar face to people receiving long-term treatment in the spinal unit at James Cook Hospital.
He is an active member of the Ageing Better Middlesbrough organisation so he can support patients after discharge.
And he is now chairman of the Teesside Prostate Cancer Support Group.
And he also goes to Lourdes in France each year to care for people on pilgrimage from the Catholic Church’s Middlesbrough Diocese.
Terry, a health and safety manager in oil and gas and then ship repair yards before retirement, was nominated for the award by therapeutic care nurse Debi McKeown.
“In all the years I have known Terry he has been someone who has inspired me with his genuine selflessness,” said Debi.
“He is someone who really puts other people first. His tireless support to people is admirable.
“He has such an approachable nature so people immediately warm to him and trust him implicitly.”
Terry received his Teesside Hero award in a surprise presentation by Teesside Philanthropic Foundation patron Bill Scott.
“I was shocked and really humbled because when I think of heroes I think of people rushing into burning buildings to save children,” Terry added.
“I help out at cancer clinics where people would have found out the results of tests because I know how frightening it is to be told you’ve got cancer.
“But helping others is almost like therapy for me. I didn’t want to hide. I know I’ve got cancer but I’m not worried about it even thought it’s incurable.
“I’m forever the optimist and if I can help other people then great. Their lives change so dramatically and that spirit invigorates me.”
As part of his award, Terry asked for a £1,000 donation from the Philanthropic Foundation to be split between Teesside and Butterwick hospices. He also received a dinner voucher for two donated by Al Forno Middlesbrough.