Henry Winter
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Andy McDermott's story

Henry Winter
Posted by
16 Aug 2011

“I’m a firefighter and in May 2007 I broke my wrist and hurt my back at work. It was a minor accident, but from that day on I experienced really bad back pain that gave me sleepless nights for months on end, despite being on a cocktail of prescription drugs and morphine.

"After seeing three different physios and having a number of biopsies and scans, I was finally diagnosed with Hodgkin lymphoma stage 4 in February 2008. The tumours were found in three discs of my spine, as well as my thymus gland in the chest cavity.

"I was in a lot of pain so they began chemotherapy straight away - I had 12 chemo sessions every fortnight when my blood counts would allow. Chemo not only kills off the cancer cells but also healthy white blood cells as well, which weakened my immune system. This led to delays in my treatment, not that I minded too much - chemo does make you feel pretty bad.

"In late September 2008 I had the great news that I was remission and I was keen to get straight back to work before Christmas. I was advised by the brigade’s doc to just rest and enjoy Christmas but after spending months at home and fed-up of the chemo, I was desperate to get back to a ‘routine’ and enjoy the company of the Watch!

"I started back on light duties in January 2009 and went on a refresher course. I was back to full fire fighting duties by February. For a year after going into remission, I had check-ups every three months. Throughout my treatment I had fantastic support from my family, my fiancée Becky and all of my work colleagues.

"While I was having chemo I watched a programme called ‘Wheel Heroes’ about ex-England footballer Geoff Thomas cycling every stage of the 2007 Tour de France, two days after the professionals. It was incredibly moving – he took on the challenge with other cancer survivors. It was an unbelievable achievement, which motivated and inspired me massively.

"As I don’t enjoy running and I’m pretty terrible at it, I thought that cycling would be a perfect challenge. I really wanted to get involved in a worthwhile charity and to try to ‘give something back’. I’m still here - I feel that I have a debt to pay! I just want to help, whether that’s by raising money for charity or by helping to motivate people.

I got in touch with the charity in early 2009 and asked if I could take part in the London 2 Paris bike ride but they had ran out of spaces, so my name was put on the list to do the 2010 event. It was a great event and I’m hoping to do more to help out Geoff’s amazing work for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research.”

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