AN INSPIRATIONAL dad who was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer has helped raise an incredible £125,000 for charity after writing a book about his journey.

John Wilkinson documented his experience from diagnosis of a rare form of head and neck cancer in his face in July 2017, with proceeds from its sale going to charity.

Since its release in May this year, more than 1,000 copies have been sold, helping raise awareness of head and neck cancers, of which 12,000 new cases are diagnosed each year.

John’s story has inspired numerous people, including some famous faces, to help spread the word about face cancer, and his book Face Cancer includes a foreword from two of his celebrity supporters – Phil Tufnell and Matt Dawson.

The 51-year-old, who was a leader in corporate management for HSBC and a keen rugby player, had everything he could have wished for: a good balance between his loving family and a busy work life.

But in 2017 his world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with an aggressive, large and very rare cancerous tumour in his face.

By the time of diagnosis, the tumour had grown to seven centimetres, having been missed by a dentist who told John the numbness above his molars was down to old age.

The father-of-two underwent more than 30 hours of surgery during several operations, requiring nearly 400 stitches, leaving John with a new face, voice and lifestyle.

However, rather than feel sorry for himself, John decided to focus on something positive – raising money for cancer charities, raising awareness of face cancer and helping others face cancer or other illnesses.

His insightful, inspirational and humorous account tells the story of John’s life before cancer and beyond, capturing the gripping key moments during his battle and offering advice to patients, carers and supporters facing similar challenges.

His wife Jane, who used to work as a fitness instructor, has also written a chapter, based on her experience as her husband’s primary carer.

Written in the moment, the book reflects a kaleidoscope of emotions experienced along the way, with advice on everything, including how to answer some of the tough questions children might ask.

John recalled his daughter Lois, now 14, asking: “Are you going to die, Daddy?”

Thankfully, he had already prepared a response, telling her: “Yes, I will die eventually, we all do, but I’m not planning to do so any time soon. If things change, I’ll tell you.”

Speaking to the Gazette from his home in Hook, John explained the brutal nature of face cancer, which has resulted in him losing his eyesight in his right eye, saying: “I had no help and guidance and no direction and I thought I want to help other people because this is dreadful. I find enormous comfort in knowing I am helping others.”

Jane, also 51, is clearly extremely proud of her husband, and has been by his side at numerous signings and events to help promote the book.

She said: “It’s absolutely brilliant that John has raised awareness, it’s showed his resilience but it’s given him a focus instead of hiding away under a duvet. He never moans. I’m really proud of him. We have worked as a team.

John, who is now receiving palliative care to manage the pain, said his wife and children, 14-year-old Lois and 16-year-old Max, have kept him going, adding: “They give me the motivation. I’m doing it for them.”

John’s three key points he wants people to remember is for anyone concerned about symptoms to seek three opinions from a doctor, dentist and oral maxillofacial surgeon; to get symptoms checked if they persist for three weeks; and that men are three times more likely to be diagnosed with face cancer than women.

All net proceeds from the book are shared between Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity.

Some of the funds have also been donated to other head and neck charities including Oracle Cancer Trust.

To buy a copy of the book, which costs £15, visit or Amazon.