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.
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
“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!
“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.”
Read to take on a challenge for blood cancer? Saddle up at the Ride as One website now.
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