James McNaught was diagnosed with throat cancer after finding a tonsil tumour that ‘changed his life’.
During his chemotherapy treatment, the 45-year-old had to travel between his home in Camden, North London to the Macmillan Cancer Centre at Warren Street on the London underground.
Whilst making this journey, his ‘invisible’ illness left James unable to talk and ask for a seat, but he frequently felt that he needed one.
James told The Metro online; ‘I gradually became unable to speak and frequently felt nauseous on public transport. I looked pretty weird – I couldn’t shave because of infections so I grew a beard, but the radiotherapy made it fall out on one side of my face and I had a huge bright red rash around my throat.’
‘People don’t mean to be selfish, but everyone on public transport lives in a little bubble, they don’t notice people around them unless they are given a gentle reminder.’
The plastic badges are designed to replicate the ‘baby on board’ badges that TFL provides for pregnant woman so that they urge other passengers to give up the priority seating.
Reminding commuters that cancer isn’t always immediately noticable, James said; ‘Cancer patients don’t all lose all their hair, so we are not always obvious and some of us can’t talk, so we won’t ask.’
James has handed out nearly 100 prototype badges and is now in talks with TFL to discuss how they might extend their scheme to include those with an invisible illness.
If you're a cancer patient who has to navigate London, maybe a badge might help. Follow and DM with your address, and I'll send one.— CancerOnBoard (@CancerOnBoard) March 18, 2016
He also promises that any cancer patients who have to 'navigate London' should contact him on social media with their address so he can post them a badge for free.
He added; ‘Even the smallest amount of kindness shown to them would shine a tiny ray of sunshine onto what can be a horribly depressing time.’
‘Being offered a seat or other help on public transport, without having to ask, might make all the difference to someone’s day.’