Completing a marathon is no small feat, it involves a tremendous amount of training beforehand, dedication and sacrifice to your daily routine.
According to Asics, it takes between the average person four hours and twenty-one minutes to complete a marathon.
But what about completing a marathon on crutches, after a decade long battle with bone cancer? Is it even possible?
To Adam Lever, 30, from Beeston it is and he will be attempting to do just that at the London marathon, this Sunday (April 23rd).
Weeks after arriving at Leeds Metropolitan University (now known as Leeds Beckett University). Adam felt discomfort in his left knee walking home from football training, for no apparent reason, which prompted him to make a doctor’s appointment.
“I was fully expecting them to say, ‘oh you’ve sprained a muscle’, ” Adam said, “ or, ‘you’ve got a hairline fracture, go and rest it.
Adam nearly didn’t go to the appointment because of this and his background in sport.
Instead, he went and the doctor sent Adam for an x-ray and told him to go to surgery a week later.
This was where he was told that they believed he had some form of bone cancer.
There’s always this feeling of disbelief”, Adam said…I remember the car journey back, I don’t think [me or my parents] knew what to say, we were all in shock.”
Adam then shared the news with his then girlfriend, (now wife) Charlotte that weekend at a friend’s birthday party.
“I think that when someone you love is diagnosed with cancer, your life changes in an instant too”, Charlotte said.
“The moment he said the word, [‘cancer’]…I immediately feared death.”
A biopsy at the Royal orthopaedic in Birmingham then confirmed that Adam had a form of bone cancer, called osteosarcoma, which triggered the beginning of his chemotherapy in the new year.
Adam tried to continue his studies through treatment but decided to pause his course after about two weeks as treatment caused his energy levels to hit rock bottom.
Adam completed six cycles of chemotherapy (two pretreatment and four post-treatment), underwent limb salvage surgery to remove the tumour, as well as knee joint replacement surgery because the tumour was so close to his knee joint.
“Because I was physically fit going into it and I had age on my side”, Adam said, “they were able to hit me hard with the treatment to push my body to my limits, because they knew I had the fitness and strength.”
He added: “I always believe that being active and playing sport gave me the best chance of surviving the treatment.”
To make matters worse, treatment didn’t go according to plan: Adam was allergic to one of the chemotherapy drugs so needed more drugs to replace it.
He also went into anaphylactic shock after a platelet transfusion, had several body spasms and experienced hallucinations due to the treatment.
“I always believe that being active and playing sport gave me the best chance of surviving the treatment.” – Adam Lever
When asked what helped him get through this incredibly difficult time, Adam said that getting his dog, Georgie, a cockapoo, improved his physical and mental health.
“All of a sudden, I had something to look after”, Adam said, “something that relied on me to get out the house and exercise.”
“She was the happiness after the sad”, he added. “She signifies a lot more than just being a dog.”
Despite the tragic nature of what he went through, Adam still decides to find the positives in the negative.
“Things like this really put life into perspective”, he said, “no matter what happens at work or day-to-day life, nothing really compares to that.”
In January this year, Adam was discharged from oncology care, exactly 10 years after his diagnosis.
“There’s a side of me that feels delighted, ecstatic, amazing that I won’t have to ever go back to the place that evoked so many bad memories”, Adam said of his reaction to being discharged.
“On the other hand, going back to see my consultant every year was reassuring… but I have the reassurance that… I could get back in touch with my consultant [if I need to].”
Now free from care, Adam has a new challenge on the horizon: completing the London marathon on crutches while fundraising for Bone Cancer Research Trust (BCRT) on his “TenforTen”’ run, where he has already surpassed his goal of raising £10,000 in celebration of being discharged after his 10-year fight against cancer.
“There is a selfish element of proving a point to myself…“[I’ve] gone through adversity, there have been challenges and [I] have completed something pretty amazing.
“The bigger reason is to raise awareness for other people going through cancer to show the positivity of what can happen.”
“I think what he and others running is great”, Faith Chambers, 48, from Sneinton and fellow bone cancer survivor said.
“The more awareness and funding there is for this disease, the sooner we will be able to save more lives”.
Adam is aiming to complete the London marathon in under six hours which would smash the current world record for the fastest marathon on crutches which is 6:24:48, set by John Sandford Hart back in 2011.
You can contribute by donating to Adam’s fundraiser: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/adam-lever10