Patrick's Life Cycle
'Lucky' is likely not the first word that springs to mind to describe someone who has had three different kinds of cancer in the last few years, but that’s precisely the term that Patrick McIntosh uses to label himself.
"I gave blood in 2012 and tests found that my iron levels had fallen off a cliff.
"That led to me finding out, at the age of 58, that I had bowel cancer.
"Some might say I’m extremely unlucky but it’s quite the contrary – I’m incredibly lucky."
Patrick believes he owes his survival to an early diagnosis: his low iron levels were caused by internal bleeding and doctors operated almost immediately, removing stomach muscles, five lymph nodes and seventeen inches of his bowel.
Although they had told him he shouldn’t have even been able to stand upright when he reported to hospital, it was just seven months later that Patrick was standing atop Mount Kilimanjaro, having reached the summit in three days.
Sadly, though, his journey with cancer was not over. Shortly afterwards, Patrick was diagnosed firstly with cancer of the prostate, then with skin cancer. His prostate, along with more muscles and further lymph nodes were removed, and he still requires regular check-ups to manage his skin, several years later.
Some might say I’m extremely unlucky but it’s quite the contrary – I’m incredibly lucky
None of it has stood in the way of Patrick’s thirst for a challenge, though.
In 2015, whilst undergoing treatment for his prostate, he trekked to the South Pole to raise awareness of cancer, pulling a 45kg sled for 120 nautical miles in temperatures as low as -50°C.
As if that isn’t inspiring enough, the grandfather of two is now cycling from Twickenham Stadium to Tokyo in time for the Rugby World Cup this autumn.
The ride will take him across 7,000 miles of Northern Europe and Russia and includes more than 50,000 metres of ascent.
The money raised by the mammoth cycle will be donated to St Catherine’s Hospice and the World Cancer Research Fund.
Tests when you give blood
When you give a blood donation, we test it for several things to ensure the safety of the patient receiving it. If, such as in Patrick’s case, the test results indicate anything is, or could be, affecting your own health, we will ask you to see your GP to explain them to you.
In most instances, low iron levels will not be caused by major health problems and can usually be improved with a small change in diet.
Stories like Patrick’s are very rare but the tests we run are a welcome bonus to giving blood – although you come in to save someone else’s life, you may very well end up saving your own!
"I’m doing this to raise awareness of how you can stay positive and increase your chances of beating cancer," Patrick says, "and of course to raise money for great causes.
"Cancer affects so many people. A good friend of mine was diagnosed with bowel cancer at the same time as me. We were the same age, had the same level of fitness, the difference was I was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer, whereas he had stage 3 cancer.
"Sadly, my friend died a year after diagnosis.
"This made me even more determined to encourage people to get tested early and to change their diets and lifestyles."
We wish Patrick the best of luck on his ride.