A climbing instructor has told how he only discovered he had cancer following a freak accident.
Dave Green, 70, was running a rock climbing taster session when a child unexpectedly let go of the wall, ‘flopped’ on top of him and broke his back.
But scans later revealed that his bones had been hollowed out by Myeloma, an incurable blood cancer which can cause holes in the bones.
Dave believes if the accident hadn’t occurred, that his cancer might have not been picked up in time.
‘Fortunately for me, in the long term this fall exposed a weakness in my bones – they had been honeycombed out by the myeloma but I had practically no symptoms until that point,’ he explained.
‘I maybe didn’t have the energy I once had but I put that down to the fact that I was no longer a young man.’
In a roundabout way, Dave feels ‘lucky’ to be diagnosed ‘before any more damage was done.’
‘Perhaps everyone in their late 50s should be stress-tested by a child falling down on them,’ he added.
After the accident, Dave went to the GP about his severe back pain, but was quickly dismissed and told the pain was expected as he recovered.
But after two weeks of going back and forth to the doctors, Dave convinced them to refer him for an X-Ray, and in November 2011, he was diagnosed with myeloma.
Dave, of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, said: ‘Once it started to sink in, my reaction was, “How long have I got and how do I increase that time?”
‘They said that the median life expectancy was five to eight years. My question was, “How do I get eight rather than five years?”
‘I seem to have done that plus some more.’
Dave initially wore a brace to help support his back but, as the damage was too severe, he had to have surgery.
He has since received two stem-cell transplants, signed up to two clinical trials, and is now on his fourth round of treatments.
‘There have been many ups and down both in terms of response to treatment and the emotional and physical rollercoaster it’s caused,’ Dave explained.
‘But I’m still going strong.’
The pensioner is now raising awareness of Myeloma and has also joined Myeloma UK’s peer buddy service, where he gives support to recently diagnosed patients.
Dave, who has two stepchildren, said: ‘When you’re first diagnosed, all the treatments sound very scary, there is this new language we all have to learn.
‘You first encounter medical professionals in all their grades.
‘Friends and family are absolutely supportive but you can feel a bit like you’re in the centre of this circle being pointed at. People don’t know what it feels like.’
He says his loved ones have done ‘everything they can’ to support him, so he wants to pay it forward and help others.
‘When it comes down to it, I think that ordinary people help each other when we can,’ said Dave. ‘It’s what we do.’
‘And if all the knowledge, experience, and hopefully, bits of wisdom that I’ve picked up can be of use to others, it would be foolish not to pass it on..’
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