Leeds cancer survivor and family to Race for Life at home

A cancer survivor is set to Race for Life at home in Leeds with his family and carry on the fight against the disease as the nation looks beyond lockdown.

Friday, 23rd April 2021, 2:49 pm
Andrew Shippey with daugher Evie, three, and son Toby, 10.

Andrew Shippey will be joined by son Toby, 10, and three-year-old daughter Evie - the children he thought he’d never have after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in his first year of university.

Along with wife Alice, 38, the family from Otley will be celebrating by completing their own Race for Life at Home challenge to raise funds for Cancer Research UK

They will join thousands of people from across the UK who have all vowed to run, walk or jog 5K either alone or in small, socially distanced groups this month and raise money for life-saving research.

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People can visit raceforlife.org to sign up to Race for Life at Home for £5 then receive a Race pack which includes a medal.  Money raised will help scientists find new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer, helping to save more lives.  Cancer Research UK is predicting a staggering £300 million drop in income caused by COVID-19 over the next three years which could put future medical breakthroughs at risk. 

And Andrew, a sales and services manager at Nuffield Health Leeds Hospital, knows exactly how vital it is to keep raising funds for life-saving research.  

He was diagnosed with testicular cancer in April 1997, just 18-years-old and in his first year of university.

Andrew had been feeling unusually tired for some time. But during a football match with his local team while at home for Easter, he was elbowed in the stomach leaving him writhing on the ground in agony.

Evie Shippey, three, ready to Race for Life.

He knew it shouldn't have hurt as much, that something must be very wrong, so later that evening he went to A & E at Leeds General Infirmary, where he was admitted.

After two days of tests he was given the devastating news he had testicular cancer, with only a 50 per cent chance of recovery.

Andrew was moved to Cookridge Hospital where he began five days of chemotherapy, but his condition worsened.

Doctors decided to send him to St James’s University Hospital where he was given some new and pioneering treatment developed by Cancer Research UK scientists which, only a year earlier, would not have been available to him.

He was given a course of highly toxic chemotherapy and a stem cell transplant. He was put on a life support machine in the intensive care unit and at one point had 17 drips and drains attached to his body.

This was followed by more lower dose chemotherapy and major surgery to remove the cancer which had spread from his testicle to behind his stomach. This was followed a month later by further surgery to remove the testicle, the source of the cancer.

Five months after his cancer diagnosis Andrew was finally given the good news that there was no more sign of cancer. After working to rebuild his strength Andrew was able to return to university the following academic year to complete his studies. Since then he has flourished and has gone on to have a successful career and his own family, settling down in the market town.

The 42-year-old and his family have supported and fundraised for Cancer Research UK ever since his recovery, raising tens of thousands of pounds over the years.

He has taken part in the Great North Run and London Marathon amongst other events, and his retired school secretary mum Margaret, 71, takes part in Race for Life and Swimathon every year – and even sells home baked mince pies at Christmas.

Andrew said: “I was extremely grateful to Cancer Research UK for the pioneering treatment I was able to have which absolutely saved my life and gave me a future I wasn’t sure I was going to have. It fell so lucky to be able to get married to Alice and then we were overwhelmed to first have Toby in 2011 and then Evie in 2017. After testicular cancer I thought being a dad would just be a dream, so I cherish every moment I get to spend with them, even though they run rings round me and beat me a football!

“So as a family we are taking part in our own version of Race for Life at Home – doing fun sporting challenges in our garden, with Alice acting as coach and mum being a much-needed referee. It is our way of saying thank you.”

 Cancer Research UK’s Race for Life, which has been in partnership with Tesco for 20 years, is an inspiring series of 3K, 5K, 10K, Pretty Muddy and Pretty Muddy Kids events which raise millions of pounds every year to help beat cancer by funding crucial research.  

 A live broadcast on the Cancer Research UK Race for Life Facebook and Race for Life Instagram pages on Saturday, April 24, will include an energiser from a fitness expert as well as inspirational messages of support from people who have been through cancer. Participants are then invited to run, walk or jog 5K. Organisers are also inviting participants to share photos and videos on social media using the hashtag #RaceatHome 

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