When it comes to battling cancer we have much to be confident about locally as more people are surviving what was once fearfully known as the Big C and discussed only in whispers.
Thousands of local people are now living with and beyond cancer – that’s the term now coined for those who have had treatment and survived the disease. Currently 10,000 Doncaster people are living with a cancer diagnosis, but that will rise to 20,000 in the next 15 years.
These are real people, some of whom who you may know, who have beaten what was not so long ago viewed as a deadly disease.
Behind every statistic is a real story of human endeavor, of not giving up, of successfully battling through their illness.
For some people, cancer has been a major life changer and nobody personifies that better than Doncaster man Brian Wright (pictured above). For cancer led to him becoming a world badminton champion.
The company director, who lives at Bessacarr, spotted blood in his poo and after his GP referred him to a hospital consultant, he was diagnosed with bowel cancer.
Because the disease was caught early, doctors were able to remove the tumour without the need for follow-up chemotherapy.
That was in 2005 and this month the 66-year-old married father of two grown-up children celebrated 10 years of living with and beyond cancer.
Looking back 10 years, Brian said the relief of having the operation had progressed into a period of depression and he looked to sport to help get back on track. He had played badminton since the age of 12, latterly at Bessacarr and, as he got older, for Yorkshire veterans.
He decided to enter competitions in the veterans’ category, becoming UK champion in 2009, taking the European title in 2010, before crowning it all by becoming world age 60+ champion at the 2013 finals in Vancouver, Canada.
Brian told a colleague of mine that, ironically, he doesn’t think he would have progressed that far had cancer not crossed his path. It just goes to prove that beating the disease can be the start of something new and hopeful.
In the last 10 years, Brian has also raised more than £3,500 in sponsorship for cancer charities by cycling the 217 mile Trans-Pennine Trail from Southport to Hornsea and a 270 miles route from Kings Cross, London to Paris’s Notre Dame Cathedral.
Recently he joined the Macmillan charity’s Doncaster support group, working with NHS Doncaster Clinical Commissioning Group to improve cancer services for local people.
So, as we move into 2016, Brian’s inspirational story can give us all hope that, by catching cancer early and getting fast access to treatment, life can bring new rewards all the time.
Here’s to a happy, safe and healthy new year.