Cancer survivor Mike – ‘Staying active was a huge part of my recovery’
Mike Walsh is living proof that you can climb mountains even after a cancer diagnosis, but the county Waterford lecturer is keen to promote the message that even a small amount of physical activity can reap big rewards.
Mike had always been quite a fit person, but the combined effects of reduced ability to exercise during treatment after he was told he had prostate cancer in 2019, and having less opportunity to go outside during pandemic lockdowns left him facing an unfamiliar situation.
“You have side effects, ups and downs along the way during treatment. Strangely enough, the one I was most aware of was that I put on 10 kilos in the first eight weeks while I was on hormone treatment. I would always have been reasonably active, so I thought ‘what the hell am I going to do about this?’
“Of course then we went into lockdown, so there wasn’t much available in terms of outdoor activities and things like that. So I didn’t really do anything about it, and with everything going on I don’t suppose I was really motivated enough to do anything about it for a year.”
The purchase of a rowing machine that he could use at home started the turnaround for Mike, who was soon joining his wife on walks to the edge of their 5km restriction zone for her sea swims last year, and his weight eventually managed to return to normal.
Keen to use his experience to help others, he happened upon an idea to mark the anniversary of his diagnosis that May. He wanted to show what could be done even after a cancer diagnosis by completing one of the most daunting challenges known to man – climbing the height of mount Everest.
Mike faced a slight predicament amid a global lockdown in that there was no Everest to be found in his native Waterford, so he resolved to instead scale the equivalent 9,000 metre climb along a route well known to him in the Comeragh Mountains.
He even came up with a catchy title in support of his fundraiser for the local Solas Cancer Support Centre.
Much as with his treatment, Mike encountered many difficulties along the way but managed to successfully attain his goal within the 36 hour target laid out, and even had a whole six minutes to spare by the end, raising an incredible €7,000 in the process.
Not content with his exploits so far, he hopes to add to the achievement by taking part in a senior athletics tournament in June on behalf of the Irish Cancer Society.
For Mike, all of his efforts are with a mind to promoting that one simple but important message: “Staying physically active was a huge part of my recovery, and that’s something that really needs to be highlighted. It worked for me and it can work for others too.”
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line
If you have worries or concerns about cancer, you can speak confidentially to an Irish Cancer Society Cancer Nurse through the Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.
Monday to Friday, 9.00am - 5.00pm
For more information