I am running the London Marathon for a Charity that is helping change the way Cancer treatments are administered.
Immunotherapy: our body fights of millions of bacteria every day, Cancer goes undetected in the body so the immune system does not attack and kill it. The research project Cancer Research UK is working on is to use techniques to teach our immune systems how do detect Cancer and arm it with the tools required to eradicate it from the body. When this research completes it will revolutionise how Cancer treatment is administered and help reduce Chemotherapy treatment which is a brute force attack on the body and trust me when I say it is hard going on the body and mind.
In 2010 I was diagnosed with Testicular cancer. I was 22 at the time, as a young man this was devastating news. I felt like I was cut down in my prime. I took it in my stride and carried on. After the initial diagnosis I was told I would lose one of my testicles which at this point had swollen to the size of a large apple. I was told the cancer could potentially spread. After the operation I was sent to Mount Vernon hospital where I met Professor Rustin and his team who gave me the unfortunate news that the cancer had spread to 3 lymph nodes behind my stomach.
I took the news in my stride and was told that I had a 95% chance of surviving, although no one knows what brings on testicular cancer, it can however be fought well with chemotherapy. I was told it would take 3 bouts of Chemo to stop the cancer in its tracks and hopefully kill it off. I had the 3 bouts of chemo with weekly top-ups of one of the Chemo drugs between stays in hospital. I was very sick for 4 months. The thing about chemotherapy is when you are in the hospital having the drugs intravenously injected, you feel fine, fit and healthy, however its once you leave the hospital and go home that’s when you start to really feel sick, you can’t get out of bed, completely fatigued, can’t sleep yet can’t wake up either it’s like a living nightmare for a week or so. That was the first bout.
Between the 1st and 2nd bouts of chemo I shaved all my hair off, Instead of doing it on my own and feeling sorry for myself, I made a night of it, with friends shaving my head. (I had a lot of hair before I was ill!) It was better than watching it all fall out. My friends came over and we cut my hair and beard then took a razor and shaving foam to it until there was nothing left. However it’s not only your head hair that falls out so I watched other hair fall out...
One piece of advice to anyone that ever has to go through this, do not touch your eye brows or eye lashes.
The 2nd chemo session was a lot better I only felt slightly sick and fatigued after and was well enough to attend a close friend’s wedding.
The 3rd one was pure fear going in, knowing what was going to happen for the next 3 days in hospital and then the week after and not knowing now if I would be horribly sick or ok.
After all of the chemo I had a PET (Positron Emission Tomography ) scan; You are injected with a radioactive isotope called a tracer that will flare up "hot" if the cancer is still active in the body. I was told that the chemotherapy had killed off 2 of the 3 Lymph nodes, they were 80%-90% sure the 3rd one was ok but was "hot" due to some residual tissue. I was given the option to leave it and hope it didn’t come back or have an operation to remove the remaining tissue. Although 90% is high, it’s not 100%. I opted for the surgery which was pretty invasive, luckily I had a very skilled surgeon looking after me. The team had to go behind my stomach and cut out the lymph nodes out. I was in the Royal Marsden for a week after and was kept high on painkillers. As you can imagine having your stomach operated on is going to hurt a bit. I was given the all clear in October 2010.
Throughout the ordeal I had great support from my friends, family and my now wife Rebecca. Although it was a real trying time in my life I feel that I have become a lot stronger and appreciative of everything I have, "what doesn't kill you..." Since I was given the all clear I quit my old jobs, studied and secured my dream job, moved to Zurich for 4 years with my girlfriend, moved back to London where we married in 2016. Thanks to the miracles of science my wife and I went through IVF and was blessed on Christmas day 2018 with our first daughter… what a Christmas gift indeed!
I have now been all clear for 9 going on 10 years.
Running the 2020 Marathon will mark the year I am given the all clear and officially cured of Cancer!!
Please give whatever you can to help support this revolutionary research into a safer and better treatment for anyone that develops Cancer.