Imagine being 20 years old and finding out you have leukaemia. This was the reality I was faced with when I was diagnosed with AML (Acute Myeloid Leukaemia) on the 5th May 2015. This was a huge shock for my family and I. At the time my girlfriend, and probably every one else if I am honest, thought I had “man flu”.
When I was diagnosed I had no idea what was in store for me and for that, I am glad. What followed was over 7 months of intense treatment. Amongst other things it involved four cycles of chemotherapy, stays of over 6 weeks in hospital, a trip to HDU (high dependency unit) and a very drugged up 21st birthday in isolation. By the end I was cancer free, but mentally and physically I was broken.
I have spent the majority of my life planning everyday around sport. I started swimming when I was three years old and over time my commitment and passion paid off. I competed in my county finals; I was national biathlon and three-time schools national biathlon champion. Whilst I was at school I also played rugby, tennis, football, hockey… you name the sport, I have done it.
More recently, I have been playing for York city’s water polo team helping them enter and progress through the national league. Whilst I was at university I played for Sheffield Hallam and went to the gym practically everyday.
So, in short I was health and fitness mad.
By the end of my treatment I could barely recognise myself. I had gone from being a confident young man to a germaphobe avoiding any form of social interaction. I had gone from weighing 95kgs to around 70kgs. Bearing in mind I am 6ft 6, I looked like a twig. At this point doing the smallest of tasks such as walking up and down stairs or getting dressed made me out of breath and light headed. I never thought I would get my fitness back.
I have decided to challenge myself with an ironman because it is the ultimate mental and physical challenge. I want to prove to myself and others that if you have the will and the determination you can succeed at anything.