Larne grandfather fights his way back to fitness after gruelling cancer treatment

Retired engineer Bob Loade (64) just lately accomplished a 10-mile hike by the Antrim Hills above Larne to lift funds for Christian Aid Ireland, regardless of main surgical procedure and inside weeks of present process eight gruelling rounds of chemotherapy – an expertise that left him so drained and weak that it was a wrestle to stroll.

Bob was joined on the stroll by a number of church members together with good buddy Allan McCullough who supported Bob throughout his most cancers journey by phoning each week to encourage him and maintain his spirits up. The mates all attend Craigyhill Methodist Church in Larne the place Bob is the Christian Aid organiser.

Bob’s most cancers journey started on New Year’s Day 2020 when he was admitted to hospital with extreme stomach ache. During surgical procedure to deal with a ruptured appendix, docs found that he additionally had bowel most cancers. Bob expressed his gratitude for the medical and nursing care he acquired, saying:“I used to be so effectively taken care of. I particularly wish to point out the surgeon, Dr Ashraf who carried out each the appendix operation and my most cancers surgical procedure. I additionally wish to thank my oncologist, Dr Catherine Davis. Even although she needed to have some frank conversations with me, she at all times confirmed me the utmost kindness. And I wish to thank my Macmillan nurse, Annette Mawhinney who gave me a lot confidence and reassurance.”

That ‘frank dialog’ was Bob’s prognosis – the information that there’s a truthful probability that his bowel most cancers may return someday, a results of the illness having unfold from the bowel into the stomach cavity.

But when his oncologist informed Bob that he might scale back his threat of recurrence by reducing weight and getting energetic, it was all of the motivation he wanted. In January 2020, he weighed 16.5 stone however inside a 12 months he was all the way down to 12.5 stone. The first stone was achieved by decreasing his portion sizes and chopping out fattening meals with the following three ‘falling off’ throughout his chemo remedy when ‘consuming grew to become a chore’.

Bob had his most cancers surgical procedure in June 2020 when docs eliminated two thirds of his giant gut however though he made a great restoration from the operation, the worst was to return. In July, Bob started eight gruelling cycles of chemotherapy remedy which have been to final six lengthy months, as he defined: “The chemo was very tough, particularly the final two cycles and by the top I used to be drained. I didn’t even have the power to stroll and the ‘mind fog’ was so dangerous that I couldn’t learn both. It was exhausting to maintain going however my spouse and daughters have been extraordinarily supportive. And Allan phoned me each week. I couldn’t have gotten by it with out them.”

Bob and his spouse Sally, a retired Larne High School trainer, have two daughters, Louise and Ciara, and three grandchildren, Ben (15), Gracie (7) and Jacob (2). Bob was born in Herefordshire in England however moved to Northern Ireland after assembly his Larne-born spouse.

Bob Loade with Allan McCullough who supported him by his most cancers remedy and restoration, at Sallagh Braes, above Larne

But by December there was hope on the horizon. Even earlier than his chemotherapy remedy was full, Bob acquired the information that his physique was free from most cancers. The ‘all-clear’ got here in time for Christmas and Bob is grateful that he felt effectively sufficient to have a good time the event together with his household.

When his chemo lastly ended on 21 January this 12 months, a ‘battered and bruised’ Bob started to slowly regain his health. Within weeks, he was on the street to restoration, regularly increase his power till he might stroll 6,000 steps per day. His complete outlook brightened as soon as the remedy was behind him:“Everything was foggy earlier than however as quickly because the chemo ended, the world appeared crisp and clear once more.”

Then on 10 April, inside three months of finishing his remedy, Bob tackled the problem he’d set himself, a 10-mile hike up Sallagh Braes and Agnew’s Hill. By his facet on the stroll was Allan, the person who had willed him on by the hardest of occasions: “Every week throughout my chemo, Allan rang me to verify in. He inspired me and he listened to me. I’ll at all times be thankful for his friendship.”

And what of the stroll – how did it go?

“I managed it okay, there have been a number of steep sections, however we took our time and everybody was very affected person with me.”

It was throughout a Christian Aid Zoom name that Bob made the choice to tackle the problem. He was amongst 100 of the charity’s most devoted supporters who watched a presentation detailing the affect of local weather change on a number of the world’s poorest folks.

In japanese Kenya, drought forces ladies to stroll for miles every day searching for water for his or her households and livestock, and Bob mentioned it was then that the concept got here to him: “I used to be actually touched to suppose that individuals are having to stroll such lengthy distances. It was surprising to see the poverty and I believed, if I’m going to tackle a bodily problem to have a good time the top of my chemo, I would as effectively do it for a great trigger.”

Bob determined that he would carry 5 litres of water in a rucksack, strolling in solidarity with the ladies and women of japanese Kenya who spend many hours every day strolling to fetch water. His sponsored problem has already raised virtually £3,000 for Christian Aid which is responding to the disaster in Kenya by funding the constructing of earth dams (low-tech group ponds) to retailer water when the rains do come.

Christian Aid Ireland Chief Executive Rosamond Bennett thanked Bob for selecting Christian Aid because the charity to learn from his problem: “I’m impressed by the heroism of supporters like Bob who consider others even when dealing with large challenges in their very own lives. And I’m delighted that he’s been capable of regain his health after this setback.”

Meanwhile the Larne man is counting his blessings at each flip: “I really feel so grateful to be dwelling in Northern Ireland. Even in the course of the worst of the pandemic, the NHS workers have been juggling issues round to get me the remedy I wanted.

“They even despatched me as much as Altnagelvin to get my CT scan. And after I was in Laurel House (the chemotherapy unit at Antrim Area Hospital), it was very sobering to see younger mums in there receiving remedy too. It actually hit me, there are folks a lot worse off than me.”

If you want to help Bob’s strolling problem, you may make a web based donation at

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