Paul is living with a GBM brain tumour and started on his amazing fundraising walkathon after having to self-isolate due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is his story in his own words.
Hello my name is Paul and up until July last year I was a very fit and healthy 73 year old with no underlying health conditions. I loved to keep fit and active by going out on my motorbike, mountain bike and for long walks with my dog Charlie and had a large circle of friends.
Out of the blue in July last year I began to have weakness in my left side, this quickly progressed and I was admitted to hospital. Following a brain scan I was diagnosed as having a mass on my brain, which was eventually identified as a grade 4 glioblastoma multiforme brain tumour. After initially being told that it was unlikely surgeons would operate, the neurosurgical team at James Cook Hospital performed a de-bulking operation. I was then referred to an oncologist who recommended radiotherapy and chemotherapy to give me the best chance of prolonging my life.
I am really lucky as I have an amazing family and close circle of friends who have supported me during this time and with their help I have been able to continue to participate in many of my favourite activities, though most of these have been modified due to my mobility issues and the impact of the tumour.
Since the coronavirus outbreak and the Government advice that people my age, especially those with underlying health conditions, should be shielded through self-isolation, I have been unable to see most of my friends and family, including my middle daughter who is a nurse. In the first week this resulted in me experiencing low mood, loneliness and a lack of motivation, which resulted in me sitting in my chair indoors doing nothing. After seeing a news report about a man who had completed a marathon in his back garden I thought I could do that by walking a little each day around my garden.
I decided this could be used to raise awareness of brain tumours and also to raise funds to support those people less fortunate than me, without a network of family and friends to support them during a very challenging time.
My marathon attempt has given me a purpose, improved my mobility, lifted my mood and also given me a connection with the outside world even though I am confined to my house and garden. It has also had a positive impact on my interaction with others through people getting in touch to discuss my progress and also to provide lots of encouragement and support.
I continue to hope that I will be the first person to beat this type of tumour and use this to keep me motivated and strong.
I gave myself a target of raising £150 but within the first day had smashed this, I am amazed by the generosity of others, including people I don’t know personally, and this has spurred me on even more. I have received some lovely comments and words of encouragement with people calling me inspirational.
I hope that my efforts have a positive impact on others, and that the money raised can help people going through this experience without a support network to get the help and support they need to get through it.
I know I couldn’t have managed without the care and love of my family and friends, and this is why I selected this charity - so no one has to face this alone.