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Anthony GILLING (D107-GBR)

image003The MARATHON DES SABLES is the toughest footrace in the world. A few months ago, I faced my own ‘toughest race’ when I was diagnosed with cancer. I lead a healthy, active lifestyle. People like me don’t get cancer…..at least that’s what I thought. I discovered a lump in my neck and initially thought nothing of it, but it didn’t go away. Thanks to my doctor’s fast action I quickly saw a specialist consultant, had a series of scans and a biopsy. By now I was fearing the worst, but it still doesn’t prepare you for those words, “I’m afraid it’s not good news”.

cruk-logo-newOn 31st October 2014, I underwent major surgery to remove a cancerous tumour, one of my main salivary glands and surrounding lymph nodes. I also had to undergo an intensive course of daily radiotherapy until a month ago, during which I was left feeling exhausted, with no sense of taste and difficulty in swallowing any solid food…..i lost more than 10% of my body weight.

I had developed a very rare and aggressive form of cancer, but luckily for me, early diagnosis, surgery & radiotherapy have been successful and subsequent scans have confirmed no other tumours. There are few treatments available for rare cancers and survival rates are often low. New trials are urgently needed to find the best treatments for people with rare cancers and I want to use my participation in the MARATHON DES SABLES to raise money for vital research which will help others like me.

I had secured a place in the 2015 the MARATHON DES SABLES over a year ago and getting cancer has not been ideal preparation, but it was this race, plus the fantastic support from my medical team, my work colleagues, friends and family and especially my wife, that has kept me motivated and determined not to let this episode stop me from putting my foot on the start line and hopefully crossing the finishing line at the end.

Any contribution you can give will make a huge difference and will go directly to the charity. My race entry fees and equipment have been 100% self-funded.

More information on research into rare cancers can be found at http://myprojects.cancerresearchuk.org/projects/rare-cancers-help-improve-treatments