14 April 2022

Half marathon for double cancer survivor

Colin Parker, 54, from Andover, talks about how he beat cancer twice, and is running the ABP Southampton half marathon for Southampton Hospitals Charity.

Colin says: “In 2008, my dad, Brian, died of prostate cancer.

Before he passed, he was insistent that my brother and I start getting prostate-specific antigen (PSA) tests. I was more heavyset at that time, and so my doctor suggested they also run a scan for pre-diabetes.

I came back positive for pre-diabetes so had yearly appointments with the nurse. As part of this, they would run blood tests, and everything was fine. Then in 2013 I had a phone call from the surgery saying the doctor wanted to speak to me.

It didn’t sound good.

My haemoglobin levels had dropped sharply in the past year, meaning there wasn’t enough oxygen going into my bloodstream. This explained the tiredness I had been feeling.

I was referred to a haematologist at Winchester Hospital within two weeks.

After a lot of tests, they discovered I had a condition called Myelofibrosis, which is a rare cancer of the bone marrow that disrupts your body’s normal production of blood cells.

It felt like the reverse of winning the lottery.

I was offered two years to live, or a bone marrow transplant.

Being in my mid-40s at the time, only having two years to live wasn’t an option. I was referred to University Hospital Southampton for the bone marrow transplant.

Thankfully, my brother was a match, and in February 2014, I had my transplant on C6 ward.

Without this procedure and the incredible team in Southampton, I wouldn’t be here today. I would never have met my two grandkids.

I stayed in hospital for seven weeks, then was off work recovering for a further 11 months. During this time, I lost three stone and most of my muscle mass. It was in the spring of 2017 I was finally given the news that I had beaten cancer!

After this, I decided to give running a try to build up my muscles, and I kind of got hooked! I started with the Couch to 5k, then progressed to 10k, and finally competed in some half marathons. Something I would never have thought possible before 2013!

After what happened to my dad, I kept being monitored for prostate cancer. Then in the middle of 2020, my PSA tipped over.

I was sent to Basingstoke hospital for some investigations, and just before Christmas, prostate cancer was confirmed.

Thankfully because I was being regularly monitored, the cancer was caught early.

I opted for the robot prostatectomy as it offered the best chance I’d be cancer free afterwards and meant I didn’t need chemo or radiotherapy.

My operation was performed in February 2021 by the team from University Hospital Southampton. Because it was during a lockdown due to Covid-19, it was performed at the Spire Hospital.


It took me about four months to get back on my feet again and back to running.

Obviously, my fitness levels had taken a set-back, but I was determined that in a year’s time, I would run the ABP Southampton half marathon and give something back to the hospital that had saved my life on two occasions.

All money raised will be going to support any refurbishments needed on the C6 cancer ward and the incredible cancer services provided by the hospital.”

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