AN ARMY veteran who was given just a year to live after being diagnosed with cancer is preparing to take on a gruelling series of challenges for charity – 12 years after he was given the devastating news.
In 2002 Andrew Graham, from Worcester, was told he had terminal throat, mouth and jaw cancer and would be dead before the year ended.
But now, 12 years on, he is still fighting fit and has tackled dozens of marathons and endurance challenges for a range of charities and is preparing for his latest to raise cash for blind ex-servicemen and women.
The 50-year-old said it had been a “huge shock” when he first received his diagnosis.
“My kids were five and two and my first thought was worrying about them,” he said.
After the diagnosis Mr Graham underwent a series of gruelling treatments.
“I had a partial glossectomy to remove the cancerous bit of my tongue, as well as my jaw and sections of my throat, and I had to be fed through a tube for over a year,” Mr Graham said.
“Fortunately I was very fit physically at the time and the doctors said that was a big factor in me pulling through.”
Now the veteran, who served in Germany, Northern Ireland, Cyprus and Canada with the Royal Green Jackets from 1980 to 1987, has set himself the challenge of raising £2,750 in 2014 for Blind Veterans UK, which supports visually impaired former servicemen and women.
So far this year he has already run the London Marathon and will be taking on a run from John O’Groats to Land’s End, as well as an ultra marathon and an extreme cycling event.
Mr Graham, who runs a motivational speaking and training organisation helping homeless people get back into work, also completed a 100km trek from London to Brighton on Sunday, June 22, in 21 hours, 35 minutes.
“The best thing about events like the 100k is the amazing scenery – scenery that blind people can’t experience in the same way as fully sighted people,” he said.
“It’s such a wonderful feeling doing events you enjoy and are challenged by in order to raise money for great causes like Blind Veterans UK.
“The 100k was an amazing experience, walking with hundreds of people all doing the event to support blind veterans. There was this great sense of camaraderie.”