Living and Running, with Cancer
Elizabeth took up running after a secondary cancer diagnosis.
For Simon, diabetes completely changed his life. Not only did he have to have both his legs amputated, but his first operation spurred a return to table tennis, a sport he’d loved as a child.
I was always active growing up. I started playing table tennis at the age of eight and competed for years. At 13 I found I had diabetes. It was something I really struggled with at first. The knowledge was so different back then. We didn’t know as much and it wasn’t as easy to monitor your blood sugar. Medicine is far more advanced now.
I carried on playing table tennis for the next 3 years, but at 17 I was ready to stop. When you have been playing from such a young age you get to a point when you are ready for something new.
I know I wasn’t great at managing my diabetes when I was young. Now I have a little disk on my arm. It’s so easy. I just hold my phone to it and it tells me my blood sugar levels. Things like this just weren’t around when I was young.
I began experiencing problems with my foot due to Diabetes in 2018. On April 19th, 2019, I went into the hospital expecting to lose my toe. I came out six weeks later with one leg. It was a shock, to begin with, but after 6 weeks in hospital seeing everyone else come in with two legs and leave with one, I knew what was going to happen. Having my leg amputated took away all the pain. I started my new life as an amputee.
Whilst I was in the hospital after the operation I thought about getting back to table tennis. It’s always been something that’s supported me through life. I enjoy playing and the sense of achievement that it brings. This was a chance for me to start again, albeit in a wheelchair.
I think having my sport to turn to after this amputation has helped. I’ve just kept going.
I joined the British Para Table Tennis Association from my hospital bed. I was lucky that a charity was able to source me a specialist wheelchair to use. Table tennis is something I love, but just like most sports, you can’t really compete at the age of 60.
It took a bit of time to work out how to use the wheelchair and adapt to it but once I got it, it was great. I feel like I used to!!
I think having my sport to turn to after this amputation has helped. I’ve just kept going. It’s something that could have really affected me, but I’ve got through it. I had to make the best out of the situation by just focusing on my goals and playing.
Playing gives me purpose. If I didn’t have table tennis, I would have nothing to do. I love the sense of achievement, you never lose the competitive nature. It’s amazing that I can turn up to an event and see people I played against as a teenager. I like to think I am showing people that you can play and compete when you are older
Simon rediscovers a love of table tennis after losing his legs