An appeal has been set up to help a father-of-six who has been diagnosed with throat cancer and is struggling to provide for his family after being left unable to carry on working.

Bus driver Mike Owen, from Atherton, cannot work at present and is living off sick pay.

He is due to have surgery in the next couple of weeks.

He was working at Diamond Bus and said the firm have been great with him since his diagnosis.

Mike decided to take advantage of a government loan scheme of £500 to help with his bills, when his wife Michelle had to take time off work in July 2021 due to breaking her leg.

He started to pay it back, but now that Mike is unable to work, the financial burden is on Michelle – who only works a few hours a week.

Michelle also broke her wrist in three places on May 2 this year and the family have been really struggling to process the diagnosis on top of the financial concerns.

Mike, 53, said: “It’s been a nightmare few years.

“I tried to keep going for a while when Michelle broke her wrist.

“But then we got the letter from the government debt recovery - who to be fair we had a payment plan with for the £500 Covid loan - which we kept to, but they said that had come to an end, and they wanted more.

“That was the thing one that pushed me over the edge.”

Mike and his wife began struggling financially a few years ago when his wife was awaiting a knee operation, during which time Michelle had to take time off, due to her sick pay coming to an end.

Leigh Journal: Mike and his wife MichelleMike and his wife Michelle

This meant that the main source of income was left on Mike’s shoulders.

And when he broke his wrist in February 2021, Mike also had to take time off work, and this is when credit card bills started to rise.

He has since been diagnosed with anxiety and depression.

Mike said: “I’ve slept in bed probably three times in 12 weeks.

“I’ve been off work around 13 weeks now and debts are piling up, with credit cards getting higher.

 “I’ve got a loan of £143 a month with Barclays to which they let me stop paying in May.

“They’ve been great, but their patience is wearing thin now.

Leigh Journal: Mike and Michelle on their wedding day August 20 2016Mike and Michelle on their wedding day August 20 2016

“And at the end of September if I can’t get back to work - please God I hope I can - that goes to debt recovery.

“So, you can see how the £500 government loan doesn’t seem much but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back.

“It’s affecting my health both mentally and physically.

“I love my wife so very much and I’ve never cried as much as I have recently.

“My wife has got me through this.

“She is an amazing woman, and all my family as well and really good friends.”

Mike now has to have an operation to remove the cancer from his oesophagus once his chemotherapy is complete at the end of the month.

Mike has two children from a previous marriage, and four stepchildren, after being married for almost seven years to Michelle.

His good friend Bill Mac Hanlon, from Daisy Hill – who has known Mike for around 17 years - is aiming to raise the funds for Mike and Michelle so they can cover the cost of the loan and bills.

Bill has been through the experience of cancer himself four times and will be signed off five years clear at the end of this month.

Leigh Journal: Mike and Bill first met when Mike came to work for Bill's companyMike and Bill first met when Mike came to work for Bill's company

He said: “I love the man to death, and he is a sensitive soul.

“He loves karaoke and singing.

“When he first told me he found something in his throat, I tried not to worry and tried to be positive.

“But when I found out about the diagnosis, it took me a couple of days to get my head around it.

“I have lost thee people in the last 12 months, so it hit home with Mike, especially with how close we are and how long we’ve known each other.

“The thing with cancer is, you don’t worry about yourself, you worry about the people around you.

“When I had cancer, I was upset by it, but I was floored by how I saw it upset my wife.

“I wanted to set this GoFundMe up for him, so he knows someone is by his side and so he can concentrate on looking after himself.”

You can help Mike by clicking here (