Runner who had weeks to live set to take on London Marathon - with one lung

When The Running Bug member Ian Brown was told he had weeks left to live, he started preparing his family for a future without him, making video diaries for his twin toddlers and even planning his own funeral.

Runner who had weeks to live set to take on London Marathon - with one lung

Ian had a combination of cancers and tumours in his right lung and close to his heart. They were deemed untreatable, and too dangerous to operate on.

Against all odds, one surgeon agreed to take the risk, and in September last year Ian had his right lung removed.

Unbelievably - and going against his consultant's wishes - Ian has decided to run again to give something back to Cancer Research UK, who helped support him and his family, and in a few days time he's taking on this year's London Marathon.

If you see him on Sunday 24th give him a massive cheer!

This is Ian's story, in his own words...

'Well, I’m 48 years old, live in Gloucester and have five wonderful children: three grown up - James, Tim, and Joe – and I now have four-year-old twins, Lily-May and Freddy.

'Cancer first touched my life when I lost my father to leukaemia when I was 14. After that, I went about life as normal with all its ups and downs.

'This was until July last year. After feeling unwell for a while, my wife Emma forced me to see our GP ( it’s a bloke thing with doctors!). He sent me to the hospital for a chest X-ray and some routine blood tests.

'I was told to phone him in a week or two for the results, but my GP phoned me the same day as the tests. It was bad news – they had discovered a number of “shadows” and so my journey began.

'I underwent both CT and MRI scans, and finally a biopsy procedure carried out under a local anaesthetic, via my throat and then into my lung.

'The results of all these tests was that I had a very rare combination of cancers. The primary tumour was located within my right lung – this was classified as “A-typical” carcinoid tumour. However, I had secondary tumours that had tracked my lymphatic system, so I needed the removal of lymph nodes that run along the bronchial tubes and close to the heart.

'At this stage, especially given the rarity of the combination of cancers and the location of the secondary tumours, the prognosis was a not a good one. Many weeks went by with us visiting different specialist consultants.

'The tumours could not be treated by chemotherapy or radiotherapy, and we could not find a surgeon who was prepared to undertake such a high-risk procedure. So, I started making plans for the little time I had left, making video diaries for my twins, so that at least they would know who I was. I made a will, planned my palliative care and own funeral.

'And then, my main consultant found a surgical team in Bristol who were prepared to review my case. After some more scans and tests, my surgeon sat us down and informed us that he was prepared to attempt the procedure.

'On the 1st September last year, at The Spire Hospital in Bristol, my right lung was removed along with 21 lymph nodes. I was in intensive care for 24 hours and then moved into a high-dependency room.

'Following the operation, we had to wait for the results of the biopsy on the tumours and lymph nodes. The primary tumour was thought to be circa 10 years old and three of the 21 lymph nodes were cancerous, with the largest being the size of a golf ball. After a week in hospital, I was allowed home.

'I returned to work full time on the 29th September, a little over five weeks after the operation. I was determined to do this for my own sanity, in order to restore some form of normality back into life.

'My fight continues: I have a scan every three months. They are currently monitoring two shadows that they are hoping are scarred tissue. This emotional roller coaster will continue for ten years.

'It was in January that I decided I wanted to give something back to Cancer Research UK, in order for them to continue the fight against this horrible disease. I thought I would start with some physiotherapy and then target a 5K run, and get as much sponsorship as I could (after getting my consultant to reluctantly agree!).

'On 17th May I ran my 5K, raising over £2,000 (originally we set £500 as the target, but people were just inspired to donate, which was a humbling experience). I had the support of my wife, friends and my three older sons, who all ran with me.

'My next run was the 10K Race4Men event in Gloucester, on 16th August, where our fundraising continued and I ran with four close friends.

'On Sunday 27th September, I ran the Cheltenham Half Marathon, completing the course in 2:25 (not too bad for a man with one lung!).

'Our aim was to raise £5,000 – and we did. Again, my wife and one of my sons (Tim) along with some other friends and family ran with me. Our team were called “Living The Dream” as every day, that is what I think when I wake up.

'Thanks to Cancer Research UK, I will also be running this year’s London Marathon, as one of their “Inspirational Golden Bond runners”. Our aim is to continue the fundraising and raise as much as we can – so far, we've raised more than £10,000 which, with the gift aid, is over £20,000!

'So, my training continues. Running gives me hope and adds to my determination and ability to live.'

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