I am a cancer survivor

I really hate cycling up hills and mountains, but I did it in memory of my Mum, Peggy, and to raise as much money as I can for this fantastic charity.

My name is Mark Powell and I am a cancer survivor… a statement that is quick to say but does little to describe the pain and worry that I and family members went through together to get to the point in time that I could say… I am now a cancer survivor.

It all began in May 2010, after experiencing difficulty swallowing, I was referred to the ENT dept. at Leicester Royal Infirmary. I was told my left tonsil was very enlarged and I underwent an operation to remove it. Unfortunately the biopsy of the tonsil revealed a T2 sized Squamous Cell Carcinoma.

As a fit, cycling, non smoker I was so shocked to find out I had Throat Cancer and the treatment was to be six chemotherapy sessions and 36 Radiotherapy treatments. For this radiotherapy, I was fitted with a tight-fitting face mask to keep me in the exact position every time so that the treatment could be focused on the exact place the cancer was found in my neck.

This radiotherapy burnt the inside of my throat to the point, after a number of treatments, I couldn’t swallow so I was fed liquid ‘food’ in bags by a small pump through a tube called a ‘Peg’. The tube went through my abdomen, straight into my stomach, allowing my feeds to bypass my badly inflamed throat. Towards the later stages of my radiotherapy treatment my throat was so sore that I communicated by writing my conversations onto a chalk board. This lasted for three very hard long months.

It was during this treatment that I learned about Hope Against Cancer.

During my treatment ,I benefited from many of the improvements in cancer care, directly linked to research funded by charities like Hope Against Cancer and Cancer Research UK.

These included Caphosol, a newly available two part mouthwash, that prevented the usual mouth sores, ulcers and gum problems that were a side effect of chemo and the radiotherapy of the mouth. I didn’t suffer from any of these due to this wonderful solution.

And amazingly, if diagnosed just eight short years earlier, the treatment would have been surgery to remove part of my face, jaw and tongue. This procedure was to ensure all the cancer was removed… life changing indeed… however due to the accurately focused, computer controlled, radiotherapy now possible and thanks to my mask, this is no longer necessary!

You may understand why ‘Hope’ is such a very important charity for me and so many others.

We are in a golden age of cancer research, and thanks to the funds raised by these cancer charities, the chance of surviving this terrible disease improves everyday.

You can probably understand why I made a decision at that time, that if I survived, I would do my best to ‘pay back’ by raising money for Hope Against Cancer.

Leicester is now a Cancer Research center of excellence, this is due to the very worthy research in Leicester University Hospitals, funded by Hope and Cancer Research UK. Please help me support this fantastic charity, you can help me to make a real difference to many cancer sufferers.

In September 2015, I took part in Hope’s Italian Job cycle challenge, cycling from Geneva to Milan over the Alps – a total of 360 miles in just 4 days, with over 17,000 ft (approx.) of climbing by bicycle!  I really hate cycling up hills and mountains, but I did it in memory of my Mum, Peggy, and to raise as much money as I can for this fantastic charity.

Read Mark's cycle challenge story