Trio saddle up to beat cancer

TEN years to the day after he was first diagnosed with testicular cancer, 30-year-old survivor Neil Rutter will cycle 220 miles in 12 hours to fund vital research into harder to treat conditions.

The St Joseph’s School art teacher was 16 when he attended an assembly about testicular cancer and the importance for men to routinely check themselves for growths or abnormalities.

This proved life-saving advice because when Neil was 20, through one of his regular self-exams, he felt a pea-sized lump which was diagnosed with cancer.

The growth was removed but six months later the cancer had returned and spread to his lung.

After a course of aggressive chemotherapy, Neil, of Lydiard Millicent, went into remission and was finally given the all-clear from doctors five years ago.

The keen athlete is aware that his recovery was made possible by extensive research and breakthroughs into testicular cancer – advances which have not yet materialised in other conditions such as pancreatic cancer.

Along with four of his friends, he is determined to raise £1,000 for Cancer Research at the static 12-hour bikeathon at the Brunel Centre on Saturday, July 26, and ensure other patients are in with same 80 per cent survival rate he was given when he was first diagnosed.

“They are still hunting for these breakthroughs for many other forms of cancer,” said Neil.

“If you can find the key to one or two types of cancer, the research needs to be done to find it for others.

“Someone came into my school when I was about 16 to talk about testicular cancer and the importance of checking yourself. It was probably the best assembly we ever had.

“When I was 20 I felt a pea-sized lump. I was diagnosed quickly and it was removed.

“I was told I could either opt for a short course of chemo or that we could monitor it and roll the dice. I was a swimmer at the time and into competitions, so I took a chance, didn’t do the chemo.

“But six months later I started to get difficulty breathing while training. I was about 21 and one day I collapsed by the side of the pool.

“The cancer had come back in a massive great lump in my lung.

“I had four months of chemo. The great thing about testicular cancer is that it’s the most treatable.”

Neil and his teammates will cycle at The Brunel from 7am until around 7.30pm, allowing for short breaks every two hours.

The challenge is the second of three Neil is undertaking with friends for the charity.

In May he cycled 500 miles in five days around Wiltshire and Bournemouth.

In October, he will tackle a quadrathlon – consisting of swimming, kayaking, cycling and running – in Snowdonia.

“I was lucky,” added Neil, a member of the Cotswold Veldrijden cycling club.

“It has given me the opportunity to live a healthy extra decade. I’m a sporty guy and using that in some way was the sensible thing to do.

“The Tour de France is on average a six-hour day and we are doubling it. None of us have done 220 miles in one chunk but we had to do something challenging.”

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