A Kennington man who completed an ‘urban triathlon’ at Guy’s Hospital was shocked when he found himself receiving cancer treatment there just a month later.
James Powell was diagnosed with testicular cancer in October 2017 and was referred to the Cancer Centre at Guy’s, only a month after fundraising for the hospital.
The 36-year-old had an orchidectomy (the removal of one or both testicles) and has been cancer free for almost a year.
He is now planning to take part in Guy’s Urban Challenge for the second year running at the end of the month, to raise money for Guy’s Cancer, which provides care and treatment for cancer patients at Guy’s and St Thomas’.
James said: “The first time I took on the challenge I wasn’t a patient. I was healthy and just looking to do something fun for a worthy cause, so my diagnosis just one month later was a shock and completely unexpected.
“Following the surgery, I thought I’d need chemotherapy but in the end the best recommended treatment for my case was surveillance with monthly blood tests and regular scans.
“I was lucky that it was caught and treated at an early stage so I’ve been able to carry on living a normal life and have tried to keep a sense of humour about everything.”
He added: “I knew that a lump would be a sign of cancer but my main symptom was swelling so it wasn’t something I immediately associated as a warning sign.
“It’s important that men go and get checked out if they notice any changes because they’ll be able to take action quicker if there is something wrong – you don’t want to have an additional worry thinking you’ve left it too long.”
Guy’s Urban Challenge will take place at Guy’s Hospital on Saturday 29 September, with participants raising money for Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Charity to fund improvements at the hospital.
James, who works for translation service TransPerfect, will be taking it on with seven colleagues. So far they have raised more than £2,200 for Guy’s Cancer.
The money raised will go towards funding things that improve cancer care for patients and families.
James said: “This year I’m doing the challenge knowing first-hand what great work the hospital does. Every time I go there I’m reminded that it’s a place of hope, not fear.
“The staff are amazing – everyone from the admin team to the doctors and nurses make me feel welcome and want to make sure I’m doing well – mentally as well as physically.
“After seeing how hard everyone works and how much time and compassion they have for each patient every day, it’s important for me to show my support.”
The grueling challenge includes a 2.4km run, followed by a 15km spin on a state-of-the-art Wattbike, and finishes with a 29 floor stair-climb to the top of Europe’s tallest hospital building, Guy’s Tower.
James said: “It’s a fun day and you don’t have to worry about being an Olympic athlete.
“I was slightly apprehensive last year as I’m the least sporty person in the world and hadn’t done an event like this before, but if you work on getting your basic fitness up you’ll be fine.
“Plus there’s no real way to prepare yourself for all those stairs. When you see the view from the top you forget about it – once you get your breath back!”
Dr Sarah Rudman, consultant medical oncologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ who specialises in testicular cancer, said: “Testicular cancer is one of the most treatable types of cancer if it is detected early and treated appropriately, and affects around 2,200 men in the UK each year.
“It’s wonderful to hear that James is doing so well and will be taking on Guy’s Urban Challenge for a second time. We’re incredibly grateful to James and his colleagues for choosing to raise money for Guy’s Cancer this year.”
If you want to donate to James’ fundraiser this year, you can here.
Places for the Urban Challenge are available here.