A Preston man is preparing to take on a cycling challenge two years after receiving a brain tumour diagnosis.Advertisement
David Thomas woke up at the Royal Preston Hospital in January 2020, after suffering from a seizure following a spin class as part of his training for 2020’s Fred Whitton Challenge, a gruelling 113-mile cycle sportive around the Lake District.
He was sent for CT scan which confirmed he needed surgery to remove a benign grade 1 meningioma brain tumour.
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The tumour had put pressure on his brain causing the seizure and after a nine-hour operation, the tumour was successfully removed.
Following a pneumonia diagnosis shortly after surgery, lockdown gave David two months at home to relax and recover, before introducing short walks to help build his strength back up. By June 2020, David was back at work, walking three miles each way to the office and back, before being allowed back on the bike in September.
David said: “In November 2020, a lump appeared on my jaw which I thought was an abscess, but my dentist referred me immediately to the hospital for further investigation. The result was that I needed an operation to remove a cyst from my jawbone which they thought may be cancer.
“I went into hospital for the operation in May 2021 and was supposed to be back home the same day but just after they put me under the anaesthetic my heart stopped. The medical team gave me chest compressions and, thankfully, I was okay.”
Since then, David has been making a steady recovery and even completed the Three Peaks Challenge in June 2021 in aid of Brain Tumour Research.
David said: “Brain tumours are indiscriminate; they can affect anyone at any age. What’s more, they kill more children and adults under the age of 40 than any other cancer, yet historically just 1% of the national spending on cancer research has been allocated to this devastating disease.
“With this in mind, myself and my work colleague, Dawn Carter, took on the Three Peaks Challenge, where we raised more than £4,200.”
Challenges like this and cycling in particular have been an important part of David’s recovery.
He said: “Physically I’m getting stronger all the time, mentally I’m not 100% but cycling and setting targets is helping. I get quite emotional sometimes if I think about what could have happened that evening.”
Over the past year, David has been building up mileage on the bike in preparation for the Etape Loch Ness.
The Etape Loch Ness is a cycle sportive that takes place around iconic Loch Ness offering the chance to cycle 66 miles (106 km) on traffic free roads.
The 360° closed-road route around the loch starts and finishes in the Highland capital of Inverness, offering 900m of ascent. There is a timed King of the Mountain stage, with a 4.8-mile (9 km) climb gaining 380m in height with a gradient reaching 12% at times.
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Sponsors and partners of the 2022 Etape Loch Ness are The Highland Council, HIGH5, Erdinger, Scottish Canals, Bikes of Inverness, Harry Gow, Fuel10K and Caledonian Logistics.
David said: “My advice to anyone recovering from illness is to take small steps and make sure you do some kind of exercise that you enjoy. Cycling has helped me not just physically but also mentally, and I can’t wait to get back out there taking part in events again.
“I’m using the Etape Loch Ness as part of my training for the Fred Whitton Challenge, which I hope to finally be able to do later this year. I was keen to do the Etape Loch Ness as it is closed roads and I’m sure the views will be epic on a bike. I’m hoping to complete the route within five hours but that will depend on how often I stop to take photos!
“After all we’ve been through over the past two years with Covid and our own personal challenges and journeys, I hope everyone taking part in the Etape Loch Ness has a great day!”
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