WHEN cycling fanatic Derek Coupe was diagnosed with lung cancer, he was determined to carry on with the sport he loved.
Three years on, he is back on his bike and supporting the Be Clear On Cancer Campaign.
Mr Coupe had a family history of the disease and had already battled — and beaten — prostate cancer in 2005.
Yet in 2010 when Mr Coupe, aged 70 at the time, went for a follow-up scan doctors detected two tumours on his lungs.
Surgeons at Wythenshawe Hospital operated immediately to remove the tumour on the right side of his lung — reducing his lung function by 20 per cent.
This was then followed by a round of chemotherapy and radiotherapy to tackle the tumour.
Mr Coupe, of Tarbet Drive, Breightmet, said: “Prostate cancer was bad enough, but nothing could have prepared me for lung cancer. The surgery was most difficult part.
“It took five sessions to remove the tumour and after that I just slept in a chair for two weeks. I wasn’t prepared for how painful it was.”
Mr Coupe still had another tumour on his left lung, which needed treatment.
But after the first operation, Mr Coupe was reluctant to have his lung capacity reduced even further and asked to see an oncologist to explore other options.
That was when he was introduced to an alternative type of treatment called stereotactic ablative radiotherapy (SABR), a way of targeting radiotherapy precisely at the tumour.
Mr Coupe, a father-of-three, said: “If I had gone for surgery on my other lung, I would have been in a wheelchair for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t have been able to carry on cycling or keep active.
“At 70 I think I should I have spoken to an oncologist in the first place.
“The stereotactic treatment was fantastic. I didn’t feel ill at all and there was no pain.”
The treatment was only available in Leeds when Mr Coupe needed it but is now available at the Christie in Manchester.
Mr Coupe is now more active than ever, training on his static bike for 40 minutes a day as well as cycling off-road with two friends almost 15 years his junior.
He also enjoys tending his chickens at the home he shares with his wife, Patricia.
Another fitness revelation for Mr Coupe has been playing on a Nintendo Wii.
He added: “I could have just sat in a chair but you have to stay active.
"The more you sit down the more you slow down. I spend 40 minutes on my trainer every day and go out mountain biking with my friends.
"Something I’ve started doing recently is playing on the Nintendo Wii.
"It’s excellent because it’s all geared around keeping active. My friend and I play 10 pin bowling or do all the balance exercises.
“I’ve had a lot of things wrong with me but I’ve just always got on with it.
“I think I’m made of sterner stuff.”
Mr Coupe is now backing the Be Clear On Cancer campaign and says early detection is crucial.
He said: “I never had any symptoms because the tumours were picked up on a scan because of my family history of cancer.
“Lung cancer, as with all cancers, needs detecting early to ensure you have the best chance of survival.
“The support I had at the Christie was fantastic and I have nothing but respect for the staff who work there.”
This year’s national lung cancer campaign, which runs until the end of April, focuses on persistent coughs.
If someone has a cough for more than three weeks, it could be a sign of cancer.
People are advised to contact their GP if they have any concerns. Go to: cancer researchuk.org
Lung cancer: The facts
- LUNG cancer is one of the most common and serious types of cancer.
- More than 41,000 people are diagnosed with the condition every year in the UK.
- There are usually no signs or symptoms in the early stages of lung cancer, but many people with the condition will eventually develop symptoms including:
- A persistent cough.
- Coughing up blood.
- Persistent breathlessness.
- Unexplained tiredness and weight loss.
- An ache or pain when breathing or coughing.