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I was training for Ride as One then found out I had lymphoma

Published Date: 20 December 2017

Shaw Callen on a ride

Shaw Callen, 44, was preparing for his second year cycling for Ride as One for Blood Cancer when he found a lump in his neck.

 Seven days before departing for the ride he was told he had non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, and was unable to participate.

“Around six weeks before the event I began to notice a rubbery lump on one side of my neck, initially I thought nothing of it. It was painless and I figured it would go away and was just some sort of swollen muscle or similar," Shaw said.

“Over the next few weeks I also began to notice that my degree of tiredness was more than I would normally expect after my rides and also when going through my daily routine of work.  Some nights I could not keep my eyes open after 8.30pm.

“One day I went for a ride with the goal of incorporating 3000 vertical metres of climbing in to my ride, I was disappointed to find that I was completely exhausted after around 2000 vertical meters and around 100km of distance.

“On the way home from this ride I experienced something that had never happened before. Waiting at some traffic lights my entire body began to go in to cramps. I could not move and all my muscles simply locked up. When the lights went green I forced myself to get moving and managed to get home.

“Around this time I noticed the lump in my neck was bigger and more noticeable. I decided to get it checked out. The doctor recommended an ultrasound and biopsy."

The ultrasound revealed that the mass in Shaw’s neck was swollen lymph nodes, and a biopsy showed an abnormal proliferation of lymphocytes, a type of white blood cell.

“I was referred to a haematologist and had the lymph nodes in my neck removed the next day, because the mass was intertwine amongst nerves and blood vessels of the neck. Surgery was tricky and complete removal impossible…however the surgeon did a great job and removed 90 per cent of the affected lymph nodes," Shaw said.

“I was left with no feeling on that side of my neck and face, but this is slowly coming back.

“Luckily for me the disease was in a relatively early stage, I had surgery to remove lymph nodes and undertook six rounds of chemotherapy fortnightly over three months,” Shaw said.

Shaw during treatment

Much to his relief a July 2017 scan has revealed the lymphoma has now gone, and Shaw was recently able to celebrate going into official remission from the disease.

“I am taking a year off from the Ride as One event for 2018! Next year I am intending on running my first marathon in New York, but I certainly intend to come back and participate again in the Ride as One in 2019."

Shaw, who works for Clinpath Laboratories said his experience had really brought home the importance of organisations like the Leukaemia Foundation.

“I would encourage anyone to join the Ride as One event, it is an amazing experience and the fundraising is a significant part of keeping organisations such as the Leukaemia Foundation operating."

“The Leukaemia Foundation provides so many valuable services to patients and families affected by blood cancer who may be receiving chemotherapy or radiotherapy.

"They also make dreams come true as I found in November when they invited my children and myself to be part of the 2017 Christmas Pageant!

Shaw and his kids

“The Leukaemia Foundation helps thousands of people affected by blood cancers every year with transportation, counselling, accommodation, information and a range of other useful practical service,” he said.

“During my journey through both the physical and mental aspects of coming to terms with my diagnosis and treatment, the value of services provided by organisations such as Leukaemia Foundation and others, became clear.

“They can only achieve this through the generosity of the general public and that of people involved in fundraising activities – like Ride as One.”

Ready to take on a challenge for blood cancer? Saddle up at the Ride as One website now.

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