Kicking cancer with Guy’s Urban Challenge!
In October 2017, one month after taking part in Guy’s Urban Challenge, James Powell was given the shocking news that he had testicular cancer. Now less than one year on, he’s cancer free and taking part again to raise money for Guy’s Cancer in thanks for his ‘amazing’ treatment.
For James, a healthy 35-year-old loving life, his cancer diagnosis and news that it may have spread was a horrid surprise.
‘It was completely unexpected, says James. ‘Although my diagnosis was a shock, my initial reaction was that I didn't want a lot of people feeling sorry for me and wanted to live life - whatever that might look like now - and have a sense of humour about everything.’
James’ was immediately put in touch with a specialist nurse and met with several members of the oncology team at Guy’s. He says his positive approach to his situation was respected and mirrored by everyone.
‘The staff are great; they read you as a person and act back towards you in that way so you can deal with the cancer as you feel at the time,’ says James. ‘From the very beginning it was about how we were going to beat it.’
James had an orchidectomy (the removal of one or both testicles), followed by close surveillance with monthly blood tests and regular scans. He’s now approaching one year cancer free and living a normal life.
‘I've felt included in every part of the decision process throughout; my treatment plan has been clear and no question is too big or small,’ says James. ‘Every time I come to the hospital, the staff want to make sure I'm doing well - mentally as well as physically - and that I have all the support and information I need.’
The return of the Urban Challenger!
When James took on Guy’s Urban Challenge 2017 he raised money for Evelina London Children’s Hospital, which is also part of Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust. Now he’s back, taking part with ‘TransPerfect’, a team of his workmates, to raise money for Guy’s Cancer.
‘This year I'm raising money knowing first-hand what great work the hospital does,’ says James. ‘I want Guy's to be able to keep helping people kick cancer with the amazing support of the staff. After seeing how hard everyone works, but how much time and compassion they have for each patient every day, it was important to me to show my support.’
The event is a unique 'urban triathlon' that includes a 2.4km run around Guy's Hospital, followed by a 15km spin on a state-of-the-art Wattbike and finally finishing with a 29 floor stair-climb to the top of Europe's tallest hospital building, Guy's Tower.
As an experienced Urban Challenger, James has some words of advice and encouragement to offer:
‘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!’
James is looking forward the big day and supporting Guy’s Cancer to continue to help patients like him.
‘Every time I go there I'm reminded that it is a place of hope, not fear, and by raising money for equipment and research we can really support patients and their loved ones,’ he says. ‘It also means the hospital can continue to provide others with the amazing treatment I received, so they can kick cancer like I have.’
Lead image: James Powell and his work colleagues taking on Guy's Urban Challenge 2017.