I’m a pretty fit and healthy guy usually: I play for a local football team and love getting out on my bike. But after a tough match at the end of last year I woke up with pain in my left shin. I’ve just turned 40 and am slowing down a little, so I thought I had shin splints. But a few days later it was still hurting, so I went to see my GP.
I spent two years of back and forth between with doctors and physiotherapists before I was finally referred to a muscular specialist. Within five minutes he knew that what I had wasn’t in my muscles, but in my bones.
I went for more tests, and had a biopsy on my leg. Two weeks later, I was sitting in my lounge when I got a call from an unknown number. It was the surgeon calling, and I immediately knew that something was wrong just by the tone of his voice.
He told me that I had osteosarcoma – a bone cancer – in my shin bone. Selina, my partner of 25 years, was completely devastated, especially because there was nothing she could do to fix it.
That Christmas was an odd one: so many people were just crying and hugging me. Selina and my mum shaved my hair off for me, which was the point where it began to feel very real.
I was scheduled for two rounds of chemotherapy before surgery to remove my cancerous shin bone and reconstruct it. The chemo made me physically sick and feel like a slug; I was completely wiped out a lot of the time.
For both these rounds, I was going to the Royal Orthopaedic Hospital in Birmingham which was completely rammed, with queues for reception and packed lifts.
But when I went in for my surgery last week, it was so deserted that it looked like a zombie film. I walked 500 metres from reception to the lift and literally did not see another patient.