Graham Brooks, aged 74 from Consett, was diagnosed with cancer 18 months ago and found an unusual way to record his time in hospital.

Originally from Cheshire, Graham was a teacher before setting up his gardening business, which he ran successfully for 30 years, only giving up work aged 72 because of his health issues. He has three children, two step-children, four grandchildren and three step grandchildren.

To challenge himself during hospital stays, he began to keep a record of his treatment in the form of poetry and that led to a unique fundraising idea for our Foundation, part of Newcastle Hospitals Charity.

Graham was very active before a series of operations affected his mobility and had originally planned to do a fundraising bike ride. As he was unable to do that, he decided to put together a book of poetry about sport and asked friends and family for their help.

Graham says: “I found writing poetry an interesting personal challenge when I was in hospital and I thought I’d see if anyone else might like to give it a go.

“We had to go with sport as the topic because the book was in aid of Sir Bobby’s charity and it was very successful in terms of the imaginative entries from friends and family about swimming, football, cricket, running, you name it. Basically, I rang round them all and told them they had to enter!

“My step daughter, Lindsey, also helped by promoting the book on social media, so we also had entries from complete strangers, which was amazing. All in all, we raised more than £800 because everyone made a voluntary donation to submit their poem. Not only that, it put me back in touch with a lot of relatives I hadn’t contacted for a while, which was really positive.”

Graham was a patient at the Sir Bobby Robson Centre. He also underwent significant treatment elsewhere within Newcastle Hospitals.

Graham adds: “Unfortunately, I’m now in a situation where my symptoms are being managed as opposed to receiving cancer treatment but I’ve nothing but praise for the fantastic care I’ve received at Newcastle Hospitals.

“It’s been a really good thing for me to be doing something to help with the future of cancer research in this region and I’m pleased to have done my little bit with this book.

“It’s important that we keep looking for better ways to treat cancer and, while this poetry book has helped contribute to that, it’s also something that’s helped me personally.”