SUPER-FIT former cancer patient Will Smith has said thank you in the best way he knows to the charity which helped him pull through, and for which he now works.
The 22 year-old from Claverdon recently completed the Blenheim Palace Triathlon raising some £800, to date for Teenage Cancer Trust, which supported him when he was diagnosed with stage four non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Will told The Observer: “I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 14, following ten months of being in an out of hospital and misdiagnoses. My cancer treatment went on for exactly 2 years, which included eight emergency admissions from infections, and a stay in intensive care where it didn’t look like I was going to pull through.
“I had been on children and adult wards, but was eventually transferred to a Teenage Cancer Trust unit, which felt like a different world completely. There was so much space, privacy, a social space with a TV and PlayStation, pool table and jukebox. It was a real home away from home.
“The youth support coordinator arranged social evenings, and when one of our friends passed away, they were there to help us and offer support.
Eventually Will regainedhis strength after chemo and joined the Royal Fleet Auxiliary – which supports the Royal Navy – and completed officer training.
But when a job came up working for the Teenage Cancer Trust, Will did not think twice.
He said: “I saw Teenage Cancer Trust were hiring, and I now work for the charity as a regional fundraiser for London. It feels amazing to be able to give something back to a charity that helped me so much.”
The triathlon saw some 5,000 people take on the challenge – and despite being least confident about the swimming section, Will finished in the top 500 swimmers across the whole event.
Will said: “My swimming result was really unexpected. I was definitely more confident about the cycling, although I hadn’t prepared myself for the hills. I found the running section the hardest and slowest, but on the final stretch my girlfriend and friends from the hospital were all cheering me on with a banner, and that really spurred me on for the final metres.”
Teenage Cancer Trust helps young people aged 13 to 24 diagnosed with cancer. The charity works in partnership with the NHS, providing expert staff and specialist units in cancer treatment centres, and also brings young people together to support each other.
Visit teenagecancertrust.org for further details.