28 (AT THE TIME)
LLANGOLLEN, NORTH WALES
In 2016 I discovered a lump on my right testicle. This turned out to be a 4cm wide cancerous tumor. I’m not really sure where it even came from, it felt like one day I woke up, and it was just there. I have previously lost my dad and both grandfather’s to cancer, so I had told myself that I would be vigilant and act fast should I ever find anything suspect. The reality, however, was that I seemed to freeze. It was two weeks before I eventually did something, and that was to tell my now wife Catherine of my concerns.
She told me that if I don’t arrange a doctors appointment by the end of the day, I wasn’t allowed to go away for the weekend. Appointment : booked! From there it seemed to be a whirlwind. The doctor couldn’t confirm, but suggested he suspected it might be cancer, and a little over 3 weeks later, I was having the testicle removed.
My immediate response to being told I might have cancer was to turn to adventure. In fact, on the day of my surgery, I launched a social media campaign in an attempt to secure a spot on an Arctic dog sledding expedition. Over the following month, whilst in recovery, I managed to secure my spot, and travelled to the Norway as part of a large team, traveling over the Arctic tundra in winder over several hundred miles.
Fortunately, about 1 month after my return, I was finally told that, whilst my tumor was cancerous, it hadn’t spread, I’d found it early, and at that stage, was cancer free.
Prior to my diagnosis, I had always been drawn to adventure travel and mountaineering, taking on several expeditions in Nepal, Iceland, India and more. When I found out I might have cancer, my family wasn’t surprised in the least to discover I had registered for yet another expedition. For me it felt like a natural step to take, but it wasn’t until my campaign became more public that I realized how unusual this bold step was.
Whether or not, at the time, I inspired others to embark upon their own adventures, when faced with serious adversity, I’m not sure. But, fast forward 4 years and, as a qualified Mountain Leader, I am now on a mission to help others by taking those effected by cancer into the mountains to learn the skills needed to safely explore our outdoor spaces themselves.