VIDEO: Huntingdonshire cancer patient, 19, becomes ambassador for Teenage Cancer Trust
- Credit: Archant
When his friends and classmates were celebrating their A-level results and getting into university, Byron Geldard was preparing for his first course of chemotherapy after discovering days before he had cancer. HYWEL BARRETT spoke to Byron about how his last seven months and looking ahead as an ambassador of the Teenage Cancer Trust.
“It’s just muscle soreness,” Byron Geldard was told by his GP when he first complained about pain in his side.
He was celebrating finishing his school career and looking forward to receiving his A-level results last summer when he received the news no-one wants to hear.
The former Hinchingbrooke student went on a lads’ holiday shortly after his first appointment but a week later, then aged 18, he still had pain in his side.
He returned to his doctor, who found a lump in his side and referred Byron to Hinchingbrooke Hospital for an ultrasound scan the following day.
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The lump turned out to be a cancerous tumour with an 8cm diameter.
Bryon was then given a CT scan which confirmed he also had cancer on his lungs.
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Hinchingbrooke’s head radiologist broke the news and told him that Addenbrooke’s Hospital, in Cambridge, would be in touch.
He returned home to Leighton Road, Old Weston, to find the phone ringing and Addenbrooke’s on the other end, telling him they had a bed on the Teenage Cancer Trust ward.
“They didn’t know what type of cancer I had,” said Byron. “I could have had four or five different types.
“They thought it could be testicular cancer and gave me a pregnancy test because the cancer produces the same hormones as when you are pregnant. I took the test and it came back positive
“There I was, with a positive pregnancy test and something growing inside of me – I thought I was going to be in a Channel Four documentary.”
He added: “I didn’t have any bumps, but when they scanned my testicles, they had found a growth.”
This all happened on a Wednesday, the day before Byron should have been like hundreds of thousands of other teenagers all over the country receiving A-level results and finding out if they had got into university.
Instead, he was in hospital preparing for the first round of chemotherapy, which started on the Friday.
“Before, I was worried about my A-level results, but it was just insignificant after I was told I had cancer,” he said.
He was given four courses of chemotherapy, which involved a five-day course of chemo drugs and fluids, followed by two weekly chemotherapy sessions.
In December, surgeons operated and removed the growth, a testicle and his lymphatic system behind his stomach.
Since then, he has been recovering from the surgery and the chemotherapy.
Tests confirmed the removed parts had no cancerous cells, meaning the chemotherapy had worked.
Doctors are also monitoring the growths on his lungs.
“There is one quote that helped me through which was ‘Yesterday is history, tomorrow’s a mystery and today’s a gift,’ he said. “It may be from Kung Fu Panda but it is how I feel.”
Now, the 19-year-old has become an ambassador for the Teenage Cancer Trust and is hoping to spread awareness.
To help, Byron enlisted the help of comedian John Bishop for a YouTube video about his experiences over the last seven months.
The Liverpudlian visited Byron in hospital after the Trust asked him to visit while in Cambridge on tour.
Mr Bishop provides the introduction on the video, saying: “It was lovely to meet him. I went into his room and met him and his mum. He’s inspiring and someone special.”
Byron has also starred on The Jeremy Kyle Show for its Text Santa campaign to raise money for the Trust, and met Stephen Fry.
He is also due to meet performers such as singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran, to say thanks for taking part in a Trust fundraiser at the Royal Albert Hall.
Byron said the Teenage Cancer Ward at Addenbrooke’s helped him through. “It was how every hospital ward should be. There was free TV and wi-fi, there was a common room with pool tables, Xboxes, Sky TV.
“My friends were able to visit when they could and because chemo makes you feel sick, you’re never sure when you want food, but you can get food when you need it.
“Because all the nurses are there a lot of the time, and you’re going back so often they become kind of friends. They are just really nice.
“Everywhere cancer is still quite a taboo, but on the ward, because they deal with it all of the time, the nurses don’t pity you and no-one is judging you. It’s a dose of normality.”
The Trust also holds events at its Oasis Day Centre, in London, where patients can meet and have fun.
Meanwhile, Byron also wants to visit schools in Cambridgeshire to raise awareness of cancer and the Trust.
“I’ve been to Hinchingbrooke School already but as I’m just recovering now from the operation, I’ll be looking to see other schools to go into,” he said.
“I have been to these types of talks as a student but I switched off. Previous to getting ill I did a bit of stand up, so I’m hoping to bring a touch of comedy to them.
“I’m also going to carry on with the stand up and see how far I can take it.
“Cancer is no longer a death sentence and I would like to spread that message.”
Byron hopes to continue his ambassadorial role while studying criminology at Anglia Ruskin University, Cambridge, and he starts in September.
INFORMATION: To donate to the Teenage Cancer Trust, visit www.teenagecancertrust.org/support-us/donate.