In 2008 Jonathan Walker from Harrogate was training for the British power lifting championship. He had just completed a normal training session and experienced blurred vision in his left eye. It was more annoying than painful and he initially thought it was hay fever.
Jonathan went straight to Boots to have his eyes tested, the optometrist recommended he go immediately Â to Harrogate hospital. He was lucky and made the last appointment and after an hour of tests ”“ they confirmed that he had a lump at the bottom of his left eye. He returned to the hospital the next morning and a surgeon looked at his eye and referred him to Sheffield teaching hospital.Â The hospital confirmed that Jonathan had a tumour growing up through the eye. The good news was that it could be treated ”“ the bad news was that he would lose his eye.
Jonathan’s treatment included ultra sound scans to check his right eye and confirm that the cancer hadn’t spread to his liver. Three weeks after the diagnosis on his 33rd birthday Jonathan had his left eye removed.
His replacement eye ball is made of coral which is organic and allows blood vessels, ligaments and tendons to be attached and this allows the eye ball to have minimum movement from side to side.Â He then slots a porcelain lens in front of the eye ball which is hand painted in Blackpool!
Jonathan had bought his fitness club 18 months before he was diagnosed and was in the process of growing his business. Following his experience with cancer he chose to rename the club GAMBARU which is the Japanese way of saying ‘never give up’ ‘neverÂ give in’ ”“ he really liked this ethos and the positive meaning.
Ten days after his operation Jonathan returned to work and was back to exercising. Â One of his biggest fears after the surgery was that he couldn’t exercise, but thankfully he managed to get back to his training. 2 months after his operation Jonathan went back to power lifting and got the British Power lifting record!
In 2010 Jonathan took part in the New York Marathon with 3 friends. His training for the Marathon helped with his mental wellbeing. It gave him a goal to work towards, he would run until he was exhausted and couldn’t think about his cancer and recovery ”“ the training helped him through many phases of emotions. The team raised a fantastic £10k for Yorkshire Cancer Research through sponsorship.
Jonathan believes it is vital to support his local cancer charity ”“ “ how many other charities can you give to knowing it will benefit your local area”.
It is five years since his surgery and Jonathan has regular six monthly check ups. His is in good health and says that his experience with cancer has made him more determined and has “made me a better person”.