Testicular cancer survivor walks for cancer ward funds

Falmouth Packet: l-r Caroline Goddard, Kirsty MacLean, Tom, Keith and Simon Redfern, Debbie Victor l-r Caroline Goddard, Kirsty MacLean, Tom, Keith and Simon Redfern, Debbie Victor

A young patient has celebrated his return to health by finishing a fundraising walk at the Royal Cornwall Hospital on the fifth anniversary of discovering he had testicular cancer.

Tom Redfern, from St Austell, was rushed to hospital in June 2009 when he was having difficulty breathing and was unable eat or drink. “I’d started to feel unwell around Eastertime”, explains Tom.

“I was at University doing a Masters’ degree at the time and put it down to working hard. I’d seen a doctor and thought the back and chest pain was most likely to be down to a chest infection.”

After becoming so unwell that he was forced to return home, Tom’s GP here had him admitted to the Royal Cornwall Hospital where he underwent a whole host of tests; two days later being given the news that he had testicular cancer. He was found to have secondary tumours in his liver, lungs and lymph nodes.

Later that month Tom started a six month course of chemotherapy, spending a great deal of time on Lowen Ward and at the Sunrise Centre. He then had surgery and in January 2010 went to the Royal Marsden Hospital for a specialist procedure to remove the affected aortic cavity lymph nodes. Ever since, Tom’s been having three-monthly and, more recently, six-monthly check-ups to make sure the cancer hasn’t returned.

Now back in good health, Tom says he had been waiting to do something in return for his care and treatment for some time. He hatched a plan with his brother Simon and dad Keith to complete a challenging three-day sponsored walk along part of the south Cornwall coast and then inland to finish at the Royal Cornwall Hospital.

“I chose now because of the anniversary and my outpatient appointment being the milestone of five years. We set out from the house that was our family home back then and spurred on by dad and Simon we’ve walked around 40 miles.”

Since launching his Justgiving page at the beginning of May, Tom has already raised over £3,000 including gift-aided donations, which he presented to the team on Lowen Ward. It was clear from the warmth of the greeting at the hospital that Tom and his family had made a big impact on all those who’d been involved in Tom’s care.

Cancer nurse specialist, Debbie Victor said, “Tom’s story is truly remarkable. His is one that really shows what can be achieved with modern cancer treatments and it’s just fantastic to see him doing so well. It’s a terrific amount to raise and will be a real boost towards items such as additional equipment, specialist training or research.”

Testicular cancer is the most common type of cancer in men between the ages of 16 and 35 years but if diagnosed early there is a very high chance of it being cured. The main sign to look out for is swelling within the body of the testicle but other symptoms can include any change in sensation or aching. Men with concerns should arrange to see their GP as soon as possible.

If you would like to boost Tom’s fundraising efforts, donations can be made online at www.justgiving.com/walktohospital

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