Belfast Telegraph

After battling cancer four times, brave Tim prepares to tackle 100k run for charity

By Laura Abernethy

Tim Page is just 52 but he has beaten cancer an incredible four times - and now he's going to celebrate by running more than 100km.

The father-of-two from Holywood was first diagnosed with Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 1984 at the age of 20.

After completing an aggressive course of treatment in between studying for his degree in computer science, he beat the disease.

But just a few years later, as he celebrated graduating with a first class honours degree, the Hodgkin's Lymphoma came back and he found himself fighting for his life again.

When he was finally declared cancer-free, Tim was able to get on with his life.

He started work at BT as a software engineer, he married Ruth and they had twin sons, Chris and Downey, now 22.

But in 2008 Tim, then 45, started to lose weight and feel unwell again. This time he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma.

"It never crossed my mind that it would come back," Tim said. "I had been well since I was 23 until 45. It just never dawned on me. I don't know the odds of having cancer so many times but my consultant tells me I'm just very unlucky.

"This time the hardest thing was to see my children and my wife and I could see the emotion in their eyes.

"I could see their concern about the person most important to them.

!It was less about myself and more about the excruciating pain of seeing their pain."

Once again, Tim recovered from the aggressive cancer.

But just weeks before his party to celebrate five years of being cancer-free, Tim was admitted to hospital.

The cancer had returned for a fourth time, and this time it was very serious. He had tumours all over his body and spent over six months in hospital.

At some points he could hardly walk or talk and as he was planning his 50th birthday party, he was also making plans for his funeral.

"I was much more ill than I've ever been," he said. "At one point I said to Ruth 'I'm going to go down for these procedures. I might not come back.'

"I looked at her and said 'I don't think there's anything that needs to be resolved between us.' That was quite a hard discussion."

On Christmas Eve 2013, Tim had a stem cell transplant to wipe out his immune system and start it again.

At the end of last year he marked two years since his stem cell transplant and coming so close to death has given him a new appreciation for life.

He added: "Anybody who says to me 'it will never come back', I just laugh at them now. Lightning can strike in the same place four times but I know I am very fortunate to be alive. The future is uncertain but I have gratitude for what I've got."

Following his illness, Tim took up running to improve his health and fitness to give him the best chance of staying free of cancer.

This year Tim was challenged to take on all 22 Parkrun events across Northern Ireland - running a total of 110km - to help raise money and awareness for Leukaemia and Lymphoma Northern Ireland.

The first event will take place on March 19 at Victoria Park and will run right through until September 24 - exactly 32 years since he was admitted to hospital with the disease for the first time.

As well as raising £5,000, Tim hopes that the project will raise awareness of the charity and encourage people to get healthy to help reduce the risk of cancer. He is also working with Delete Blood Cancer to register people as stem cell donors.

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