09 August 2017
Life-long sailing enthusiast Richard Parsons was so inspired by talk from a crew that had just taken part in the world-famous Rolex Fastnet Yacht Race that he signed up to join the next event.
Just weeks later dad-of-two Richard, who lives in Solihull with wife Dawn, was diagnosed with bowel cancer. He faced surgery and chemotherapy and a long road to recovery – but he never gave up his plan to take part in the 2017 event.
Now Richard, a project manager with brewers Greene King, has raised over £4,500 for Cancer Research UK and cannot wait to set sail.
He said: “When I was diagnosed in February last year it obviously came as a major shock, but I stayed positive and kept active which I think really helped. I was determined that I would still be good to go for the 2017 Fastnet which will start on 6 August. I have just one more training race to take part in then that’s it – let’s go!”
Fifty-five-year-old Richard, a keen sailor for 29 years and a member of the Balsall Common-based Heart of England Offshore Cruising Association, was operated on at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, by Consultant Surgeon Charles Hendrickse who removed the tumour from his bowel.
Then it was back to the Spire Specialist Care Center at Parkway for a course of chemotherapy conducted by Consultant Oncologist Dr Shobhit Baijal, who explained: “Following his surgery Richard embarked on a six month course of chemotherapy to reduce the risk of his cancer recurring.
“The treatment is intense and carries potential side-effects but, with careful supervision, Richard ‘sailed’ through it remarkably well.”
Richard added: “I did have some rough times but, to be honest, the treatment was nowhere near as bad as I had expected it to be. I also regularly attended sessions with the Macmillan Cancer Rehabilitation Scheme at Tudor Grange in Solihull, which really helped me to maintain my fitness.
“I can’t thank either Mr Hendrickse or Dr Baijal enough – not just for their expertise but for the encouragement and advice they were always happy to give.”
The Fastnet Race takes place every two years over a course of 608 nautical miles (1,126 km) starting in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, rounding Land's End, the Fastnet Rock off the soutwest coast off Ireland, passing the Isles of Scilly and finishing in Plymouth.
“It is impossible to say how well we will do but we have a good crew and a great boat so the rest is down to the elements and what is thrown at us. Whatever happens it will be something I will remember for the rest of my life – which proves you’re never too old for adventures!
“Finishing the race and raising a load of cash for Cancer Research UK will be enough to keep me happy,” said Richard.