Running Man, a Gift
I was diagnosed stage 4 in May 2017, aged 60, when a runners “groin strain” turned out to be far worse than just a groin strain. In fact, if I weren’t a runner I would probably have been diagnosed much later and may have ended up with months rather than years.
I’ve been one of the lucky ones
The “groin strain” was actually stress fractures of my pelvis. The cancer had already spread to the pelvis, hips, ribs, spine, neck and skull, and I’d had no symptoms until the groin strain. They think I’d had the cancer for 10 years, such was the extent of the spread, and this is something that I use in my awareness talks to shock men into being proactive about their prostate health.
I’ve been, at least so far, one of the lucky ones that have responded well to treatment. My PSA remains unrecordable coming up to 5 years post-diagnosis, with an initial worst case prognosis of two years.
I often wonder why I’ve been one of the lucky ones. Several men diagnosed around the same time or since my diagnosis have already died, so why am I still here?
A friend, diagnosed 7 years ago, tells me that only two men diagnosed a year or so either side of him, out of 20 or so, are still alive. That’s he and I, both of us runners. I have to remind him that if we hadn’t responded so well to the treatment, we wouldn’t still be here, let alone running.
Irrespective of what the reason might be that we are still here, my friend and I have one thing in common. We do our utmost to lead the best possible life and fill it with things that bring us joy and happiness. At the same time, we use the gift that we have been given to raise awareness, save lives, inspire others, and fundraise so that the men who come after us have a better chance of early detection and a better outcome.
He runs off the scale lunatic adventure ultra-marathons around the world and tells his story so that people realize that you can still do amazing things even with a stage 4 cancer diagnosis. The only barrier stopping people achieving amazing things is the artificial barriers that they set themselves.
Running challenges keep me motivated
I’m a bit less of a lunatic though!
In 2018 I managed to complete the hottest London marathon on record.
In 2019 I ran 970 miles in the year. Why 970? Because that’s the number of men that died each month in the UK. By the end of the year it had increased to 1,000.
2020/21 saw me complete a 374-day streak of running every day.
2021 I completed a 100km ultra-marathon, hiked 2 marathons, and climbed the highest mountain in England!
These challenges have kept me motivated and given me a reason to carry on. But I’ve also used them to raise funds for cancer charities, and my fundraising was in excess of £45,000 from 2018-2021.
Raising money through exercise
In the final months of 2021 I’d lost my mojo a bit. Running was a real struggle. It’s so much harder with no testosterone!
I decided that, in 2022 I’d try to run at least 5000m every day and use it to raise money for a small cancer charity supporting teenagers and young adults living with cancer.
The challenge was picked up by some TV stations, resulting in me doing a live TV interview for a national news channel, Sky TV, and another for UK regional TV. Both interviews led to a massive increase in donations, and they have jumped from £240 to nearly £6,000 in weeks, as of my writing this.
A reason to carry on
It has also inspired me and given me a reason to get going each day but, more importantly, it has led to a number of people contacting me out of the blue asking for support and two men joining me on my runs to support me.
Running has been a real gift to me, and my ability to carry on has helped and inspired others. But the most important gift it has given me is still being here to meet my new granddaughter – a blessing I never expected to see in May 2017. I now have 3 grandchildren and a step granddaughter, and they are my motivation, my gift, and the real reason I carry on.
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