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Richard was diagnosed with metastatic kidney cancer when he was 36 years old in October 2014. Richard has undergone two courses of chemotherapy since his 2014 diagnosis, the last course finished in October 2016. The affected area has remained dormant for around 14 months, and he is now awaiting the outcome of his recent CT scan check-up.
Richard is a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist and committed runner. In May 2017 he ran the Colfax Marathon in Denver, Colorado. This was his 8th marathon and he raised around £2500 for Macmillan. He now hopes to run the New York Marathon in November 2018.
When you come from a family with a reasonably healthy background, where there have been no bad habits such as heavy drinking or smoking, healthy diets, and - most significantly - no history of cancer, one remains content and confident about the direction your health is going. This is especially so when your own lifestyle, from birth to 36 years old, has been healthy.
After a difficult school life, I have been struggling with anxiety and depression throughout my adulthood, for which I had received help from the NHS, as well as friends and family. In spite of this, I became qualified in Sports Massage Therapy in 2002, and went on to gain two NVQ diplomas in Sports Therapy before going to university in 2009 to study Sports Rehabilitation. I had also become involved with running and from 1999 to 2014 I had completed eight marathons and many shorter races, my best marathon time being 3:12:49 at the Milan Marathon in 2013. I graduated in 2012 with a first class BSc degree. Having suffered emotional difficulties post-university, my plans to study a Masters in physiotherapy were put on hold in 2013. However, the dilemma of whether or not to do a Masters course became irrelevant after mentioning a 'peculiar feeling' in my right-hand side to my GP.
After months of tests, in October 2014 I was diagnosed with a rare form of kidney cancer. I don't think I have ever been so shocked about anything in my life; apart from that strange feeling I had in my side, I had no other symptoms or anything to suggest I had a problem. Fortunately, I was told it was treatable and I was given an eight-month course of chemotherapy, from November 2014 to June 2015, which shrunk the disease and made it dormant. Of course, due to the harsh side effects of chemotherapy, I was unable to run throughout this period. For a whole year the disease remained dormant and as the side effects of the treatment began to go, I was able to regain fitness and return to running. I planned to run a marathon in Las Vegas in November 2016, as my scans continued to show stability in the disease.
Unfortunately, in June 2016 a scan showed minor activity in the cancerous tissue. I therefore required another course of chemotherapy, which ran from June 2016 until the end of October 2016. Once again my running had to stop. Not only was I undergoing further chemotherapy, but two thirds into my treatment I suffered a stroke. I was taken to East Surrey Hospital; fortunately, the symptoms went very quickly and I was discharged after a week. This meant I had to miss one day of chemo treatment, but I was soon back on track. Thankfully, the treatment was again successful and the disease remains stable with no activity in the affected areas.
Whilst I feel I have withstood the physical and mental effects of chemotherapy well, I don't know how to describe the feeling of isolation, despair and hopelessness I have felt. In addition, while I know the problem is under control and I have been able to return to my running activities and pursue my work as a therapist, living my life can feel a little restricted. At these times it has been particularly important for me to have knowledgeable people, with a sympathetic ear, to help put things into their positive perspective and promote a fighting spirit to take whatever would be thrown at me. Macmillan have certainly contributed that to me and have played a large part in getting me to the position I'm in now
I have personally gained most out of the people at Macmillan. Through either having someone to chat with, be it a counsellor or a friendly volunteer, or having a massage or reflexology treatment, it can do so much to clear the fog that no doubt forms in every person's mind when they are told they have cancer. Also having a place to meet others in similar situations helps to relieve that feeling of isolation. Having experienced all this firsthand and now being in a position of fitness to run a marathon, I want to give back to this amazing charity.
I chose the Denver Marathon on the suggestion of my American friend Lori. After having to cancel my participation in the Las Vegas Marathon in 2016, she suggested I do the Denver Marathon in May, the city where she lives. Following my scan in March 2017 and that my consultant told me my next check-up would be in June 2017, I knew it was all systems go for the Denver Marathon on 21st May 2017. After months of training, I made it to Denver, Colorado. Being at an altitude of around 6000ft, I knew this was going to be a tough one and with a race start of 6am, it was be even harder. Despite suffering altitude sickness, I completed the Colfax Marathon in 4:15. In doing this I raised approximately £2500 for Macmillan.
It was now been well over a year since I completed my last course of chemotherapy. I'm still attending check-ups every two to three months, as the problem remains there but dormant. All the time nothing needs to be done; I carry on with my work and running. I currently work self-employed as a Sports Rehabilitation Therapist and run a mobile service. I also work for Boots. While my health continues to be uncertain, I train and take part in running races, most recently in the Worthing Half Marathon where I set a time of 1:33:15. This was my fastest half-marathon since before my cancer diagnosis. I now aim at running the New York Marathon in November 2018, health depending of course.
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Hi Richard what an amazing post and person well done to you. I was diagnosed November 2016 with primary breast cancer thankfully no spread but I find recurrence fears so difficult still. Is there any particular coping tips that have helped you deal with the emotional side. Thanks and here's to a happy healthy year.
Hi Richard, An amazing post and it puts over what it is like to be diagnosed with cancer, it's treatment and the uncertainty all of us have to deal with post treatment. I thought I was going to pass out when I found out my prostate cancer had returned within around a year of surgery.
I still find it stressful waiting for test results every three months but I try very hard to lead as normal a life as I can and appreciating thongs more.
I do hope your recent CT scan brings positive news.
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