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 became national biathlon and three-time schools national biathlon champion.
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 completing the smallest of tasks such as walking up and down stairs or getting dressed made me light headed and out of breath. I never thought I would get my fitness back.
HOWEVER, since being in remission from Leukaemia I have ran my first Marathon in Paris, I have completed 3 IRONMAN triathlons (UK, Copenhagen & Zurich) and have raised over £11,000 for Teenage Cancer Trust on the way. I have created this blog to inspire people that there is a life after cancer and to create awareness of what having cancer entails. This is just from my experience, everyone’s journey is different but if I can help just one person see that there is light at the end of the horrible journey I will have done my job.
My day to day life changed, I was pursuing a career in accounting and finance to becoming a Level 3 qualified personal trainer. My perspectives all changed, I went from wanting to earn as much money as possible to trying to inspire others to improve their health and fitness.
Cancer has taught me a lot of things and honestly if we found a cure, I wouldn’t go back in time to stop it from happening now. The pain and suffering I went though has made me the man I am today. It has made me think twice about what really matters and it has helped me prioritise what really matters in life.