British Championship level 800m athlete given devastating incurable blood cancer diagnosis hopes to spread awareness

An 800m athlete who has been given a devastating incurable blood cancer diagnosis is hoping to raise awareness of his condition in the hopes of finding a cure.

Tuesday, 9th November 2021, 4:45 am

Andrew McAslan, 25, has competed at British Championship level in the sport and trains at Leeds Beckett University.

Andrew, originally from Manchester, started to notice a change in his health in January 2021 - with chronic fatigue affecting his performance on the track.

After attending multiple scans, Andrew was told not to worry and that he probably had a bout of IBS or a similar condition.

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Andrew McAslan, 25, has competed at British Championship level in the sport and trains at Leeds Beckett University. Pic: Andrew McAslan

However, months later, scans revealed that Andrew in fact had Stage 4 Follicular Lymphoma which is an incurable blood cancer.

"I was experiencing strange symptoms for months, along with unexplainable dips in my training and performance", Andrew told the YEP.

"I was told by multiple doctors that I was too young for it to be cancer.

"After pushing for scans and further tests it became apparent what was really going on."

Andrew McAslan, 25, has competed at British Championship level in the sport and trains at Leeds Beckett University. Pic: Andrew McAslan

As follicular lymphoma typically grows slowly and might not cause any symptoms, it is often advanced by the time it is diagnosed.

In Andrew's case, medics believe he may have had the condition for up to four years.

"It was a massive shock", Andrew said.

Now, Andrew is hoping to raise awareness of his rare condition in a desperate search for a cure.

Andrew McAslan, 25, has competed at British Championship level in the sport and trains at Leeds Beckett University. Pic: Andrew McAslan

He said: "Unfortunately my cancer is currently incurable, therefore even if remission is achieved, it will still be living in my body & there is a high chance that it will start growing again, however there is no indication of when and how severe.

"I would like to raise awareness for this disease and the amazing work that the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation are doing.

"Their aim is to find a cure for this disease and after speaking to leading experts in the field, they are confident that this is possible.

"The fight against this disease has been underfunded for so long, therefore the the time, resources and money required to find a cure have not been available."

Andrew McAslan, 25, has competed at British Championship level in the sport and trains at Leeds Beckett University. Pic: Andrew McAslan

More than £2milllion was raised in a huge weekend of fundraising by the Follicular Lymphoma Foundation over October 24 and 25 - supported by the Vice President of Facebook, Nicola Mendelsohn.

"She has said that if we achieve the fundraising target she is confident this cancer can be cured within 10 years", Andrew added.

Andrew has had to halt his training while he undergoes a gruelling course of immuno-chemotherapy.

His aim is to be given a "no evidence of disease" prognosis - however he also understands there is a high chance the cancer would return in the future due to his young age.

Eager to spread awareness of the condition, Andrew spoke to the YEP to reveal the symptoms he suffered.

He explained: "As I train all the time, I started to realise when my body started to feel different.

"I push my body to the limit while training and I knew something was not right, I had fatigue and no energy.

"I started to get lumps on my neck under my chin earlier this year and got an urgent referral.

"It was only then that I was diagnosed."

Andrew moved to Leeds from Manchester where he grew up to be with his partner as she attended University.

He has previously won medals at the British University Championships on the track and hopes to bounce back following his treatment cycles.

"Right now, every day is a struggle", Andrew said.

"I just want people to be aware of the condition and to learn a bit more about it to be able to spot the symptoms.

"I will do all I can do to recover and get back on the track to do what I love."

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