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Miracle reprieve spurs father to fundraise for cancer charity

Miracle reprieve spurs father to fundraise for cancer charity

31 May 2012

A Post Office manager from Chatham in Kent who has had a “miraculous reprieve” from one of the deadliest cancers, is embarking on a 350 mile cycle challenge to raise money to help others who aren’t so lucky.

Andy Goode, 49, was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in May 2010, and was told that his condition was terminal. But the doctors were mistaken – and to this day, they still don’t know what condition he has. Despite his severe ill health, Andy is determined to cycle from London to Paris, starting on 06 June, to raise money for research into the cancer that he thought he had.

“I had repeated appointments over several weeks at my GP’s surgery and with out-of-hours medical services, but I was told that the chest pain was just a pulled muscle, and was just sent home with stronger and stronger painkillers,” says Andy. “But both me and my wife, Kate, who has a nursing background, felt something more serious was going on.”

Things came to a head when Kate spotted that Andy had become jaundiced and immediately booked another appointment with an out-of-hours surgery. The doctor told Andy he needed to have a scan as soon as possible. Realising the urgency of the situation, Andy booked a private scan at the local BUPA hospital.

“The consultant radiologist told me that I had a massive tumour on my pancreas. I was completely numb with shock,” he says. “After being told for so long that there was nothing wrong with me, I was suddenly being told that I was terminally ill. It was like being punched in the face, and I broke down in tears.”

Pancreatic cancer has the worst survival rate of any common cancer. Only 3 in every 100 people will still be alive 5 years after diagnosis, and this figure hasn’t improved in the last 40 years.

Andy put himself into the specialist care of consultants at King’s College Hospital in London. He continued to exhibit symptoms associated with pancreatic cancer. His weight plummeted by 3 stones in 6 weeks and his jaundice got worse, itching so badly that Andy would scratch until he bled. “It was a terrible, dark time for all the family,” he says.

The lowest point of all came when Andy suffered the ordeal of explaining to his young daughter that her daddy might have to go and visit Grandma and Grandad in heaven.  

But, against all the odds, the consultants at King’s slowly started to revise their thoughts about his initial diagnosis. After a procedure to remove a stent, which was inserted to help relieve his jaundice, he was told that the surgeon had commented that his tumour didn’t look quite right for pancreatic cancer, in his experience.

Andy had been booked in for an operation known as a ‘Whipple’ procedure to remove part of the pancreas – the only treatment which gives people with pancreatic cancer a chance to survive - but then was told that he would no longer need the operation.

He says: “They were very cautious, probably not wanting to give me false hope, but slowly and surely they started mentioning other potential diagnoses, and finally, all mention of pancreatic cancer fizzled out. I know I have something serious wrong and they just haven’t nailed what it is yet - I think I’m a bit of a medical enigma! But the main thing is that it seems that it’s not pancreatic cancer, and I can’t tell you how happy that makes me! ”

Andy has been left with what he describes as an “incredibly close affinity” to the disease, and has set himself the goal of raising £2,000 so that others not as lucky as himself might have a chance to live.

Of his cycle ride he says: “I’ve never done anything like this before and I’m absolutely terrified. To cycle 350 miles in my condition really frightens me. I was born lazy, but I was also born stubborn – so I’m not backing out. I will be setting off on 06 June and I will definitely be in Paris on June 10.”

Maggie Blanks, CEO of the Pancreatic Cancer Research Fund (PCRF), which will benefit from Andy’s fundraiser, said:  “Having spoken to Andy on many occasions and seen his positivity and determination, I have no doubt that he’ll achieve his goal - and we’re really proud of him. PCRF now funds £3 million of research projects all over the UK that are entirely paid for by supporters like Andy, and when we see new treatments for this cancer coming through, I hope he’ll be proud to know that he contributed to these.”

If you can spare a few pounds to help Andy reach his target, please go to www.virginmoneygiving.com/AndyGoode where you can donate online.

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