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I Will Let The Cancer Try To Catch Me If It Can, But I Have No Intention Of Making It An Easy Chase

06/11/2016 11:18

November 6th 2014, a date that will never leave my mind for it was then that my consultant said that I had effectively terminal cancer and may only live for two more years.

I was just a regular guy, wife, three kids, house, mortgage, worked for RBS for 33 years, liked being with my family, watching AFC Wimbledon and running occasional marathons, age 49 enjoying life and looking forward to the years ahead.

A couple of months before I had noticed that I was going to the loo a few times in the night, felt uncomfortable sitting down on occasions and "physical relations" with my wife felt different. I didn't hang around and 6 weeks on saw my GP to see if he knew what all the symptoms meant.

The doctor did what I now call the "special handshake" i.e. an internal feel around and took a blood sample. A week later I was hearing him say that the blood score (PSA) was high, he was looking for 3 or 4 but I had scored 342. His initial thoughts were that I had prostate cancer.

Two months later and a raft of invasive tests, more special handshakes and scans had my wife and I in tears about the final prognosis. Whilst we were advised that I could carry on a bit longer I was told not to expect more than 4 years and that 2 was a possibility.

The next two months were emotionally tough whilst waiting for chemotherapy to start, my oncologist said that if the drugs and treatment went well he could stabilise things for a bit. My limited knowledge of my situation meant that the next 2 years could be full of treatments and pain whilst I slowly went downhill.

Just before I started chemo, I went for a run and wondered if it would be the last time that I ever managed that.

Chemo is not much fun, you sit in a chair surrounded by others who are also having poison pumped into them hoping that it is doing some good and knowing that you will feel rubbish for a while afterwards.

I got home on the first day, shuffled out of the car and sat in an armchair, felt very sorry for myself, I didn't sleep as they give you lots of steroids and made a 'defining-moment' decision the next morning when I got up.

Despite feeling rubbish I realised I now had a choice for that day and the rest of my life however long that will be. I could spend my days miserable, focussing on how bad things may be or take every day as it comes and make the best of each and every one.

I told my wife I was going for a run, she told me that I was mad and that I shouldn't, however I had decided that whilst my life will be shorter than I had hoped, the quality of what I did would be the best I could make it. I went out of the door in the freezing rain, it was January 2015 and my life was about to start all over again.

Much to my oncologist's surprise and concern I told him I was going to run a marathon on week 13 of chemo. I managed that in 4-36, an hour slower than the year before but a fantastic feeling to do something "normal". Two weeks later I ran another marathon in 4-28, more elation.

"What next?" my oncologist asked expecting me I think to say I was hanging up my running shoes. I told him that I had entered a race in April 2016 to raise funds for Prostate Cancer UK called The Marathon Des Sables aka MDS - something I had dreamt of doing for 30 years.

The race is often billed as the "toughest footrace on earth", it nearly killed James Cracknell, Sir Rannulph Finnes just managed to finish in the time allowed, it is seriously hard-core.

So what is the MDS? In rough simple terms it's a marathon on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, a double marathon on Wednesday, a marathon Friday and a half marathon Saturday. All this takes place in the Sahara climbing mountains, crossing endless miles of dunes in temperatures up to 50c carrying everything you need for the week on your back apart from water.

Just getting to the start line was an achievement. I never thought would happen but to complete it half way down the field was, excluding family events, the greatest time of my life. The desert is such a brutal yet beautiful place, I loved the race so much.

I had moments in tears, king sized blisters, was thirsty, had sore feet, shoulders and back but had to carry on to prove that you only should give up when you can not physically carry on, not just because it's not what people like you normally do.

A few weeks later, walking across Trafalgar Square going to work I saw the remains of a pavement artist's thoughts, it said "You only have two lives and the second one starts when you realise that you only have one". I guess that day was the day after chemo for me and since then I have not given up on anything. I have no idea how accurate my prognosis is, but I for one am not going to sit around and wait for it to pan out.

My plans for 2017 are to run further than I have ever done before, I will let the cancer try to catch me if it can, but I have no intention of making that an easy chase, roll (run) on the next two years!

Find out how you can join the fight to help beat prostate cancer by visiting http://prostatecanceruk.org/get-involved

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