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Young farmer who lost arm to cancer takes on 150ft abseil challenge

James Addyman and his partner Ruby Nicholson

A young Cumbrian farmer and rugby player who had his right arm removed due to cancer is taking on a 150ft abseil challenge to raise money for Teenage Cancer Trust, the charity that supported him throughout his treatment.

James Addyman, aged 22, from Asby, near Lamplugh in West Cumbria, was diagnosed with an aggressive form of osteosarcoma – a type of bone cancer – last year. James explained: “I had been travelling and spent some time in Australia when the pain started in my right arm. I had some physiotherapy and then returned home to the UK when the pain started getting worse. An x-ray showed that something was not right in my shoulder and further tests revealed I had a tumour. It was the Friday when I heard that it was cancer and on the Monday I started my chemotherapy.”

After gruelling chemotherapy treatment which made James very ill, he learned he would have to lose an arm and shoulder joint. He explained: “I was absolutely mortified. But it had to happen. ‘Either your arm’s going to come off, or it [the cancer] is going to spread’. When you look at it like that, it’s one of the easiest decisions I’ve ever made.”

James’ treatment continued for several months, and for six months he spent three weeks out of five on the Teenage Cancer Unit at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle. James continued: “Having spent so much time in hospital it was really nice to have the support of the Teenage Cancer Trust nurse and youth support co-ordinator. They are used to dealing with young people and really knew how to talk to people my age.”

During his time at the Freeman Hospital James spent many hours in the Teenage Cancer Trust recreational room which is a lounge/kitchen equipped with a TV, computer games and a jukebox – more like a home from home than a traditional hospital day room. He explained: “Having the recreational room was brilliant as it meant that when I had visitors we had somewhere relaxing to sit together or even enjoy a meal together. It is also a fantastic place to meet other young people going through cancer treatment instead of just lying in your bed as there is nothing more depressing than that.”

James, who has been off treatment since January, has now returned to playing rugby with Keswick and to working on the family farm. He said: “There is not a lot I can’t do really, I just like to keep going as I was before my cancer diagnosis.”

When James heard about Teenage Cancer Trust’s North East Abseil that takes place on 11 and 12 October, he was quick to sign up and plans to abseil alongside his 17-year-old brother William.

Sonia Graham, regional fundraiser for Teenage Cancer Trust said: “Thank you so much to James and his brother William for signing up to take part in our abseil. All of the money raised on the day will be used to help Teenage Cancer Trust to be there for more young people with cancer. Right now, for every person we can support, there is another we are not reaching. We need supporters like James and William to help fund more specialist nurses.”

There are still limited places to take part in the North East Abseil for Teenage Cancer Trust from the roof of the Sandman Signature Hotel, opposite St James’s Park in Newcastle. Participants can opt to abseil in the dark on Thursday 11 October or to take on a daytime abseil on Friday 12 October. To book your place or find out more visit: www.teenagecancertrust.org/abseil or email [email protected]

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