Mark takes a flying leap to repay lifesaving trust
EXETER father of four Mark Gooding is looking to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust, which saved his life with a stem cell transplant.
Mark, a sergeant in the RAF's survival equipment section, was first diagnosed with cancer in 2008, but is now in full remission.
It was just four days before Christmas when specialists found a large lump attached to his aorta which was found to be non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, a form of blood cancer.
After six months chemotherapy he lived a normal life for the next two years until April 2010.
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Mark said: "I slipped on wet rock in Cornwall and, as I fell, I grabbed a rope and snapped my arm below the shoulder.
"Subsequent hospital testing showed the cancer had returned.
"I started treatment again which culminated in a re-transplant of my own harvested stem cells following high-dose chemotherapy to kill off my marrow, the idea being that the new marrow would provide a fresh immune system and recognise cancer cells as the enemy and kill them off."
Unfortunately it only lasted six months and another tumour was found in his abdomen.
"At my lowest point I turned to my wife Mandy and told her I couldn't face any more chemo and that I was going to take the palliative option. Basically, it was so bad I chose to die," he said.
"This was met by a verbal clip around the ear. Having a wife and a family behind you is essential to beating cancer.
It's not easy for a partner and your children to potentially see you slowly dying in front of them.
"Needless to say I manned up and got on with it.
"After all, I promised my children Stephanie, 23, Anthony, 22, Amy, 19 and Kayleigh, 15, that I would do everything in my power to beat this once and for all."
In November of 2011, after a month of radiotherapy and further chemotherapy, he went to the Royal Free Hospital in London and underwent a very high risk stem cell transplant with a 30 per cent chance of success from an unrelated German man aged 19 which was organised by the Anthony Nolan Trust, at a cost of almost £114,000.
He said: "During my month's stay my wife was also granted £1,500 to cover travel and accommodation costs so she could be by my side throughout my treatment.
"I aim to raise all of this money back as a thank you."
The fundraising starts with a tandem parachute jump which is being raffled at £5 a head to anyone 16 or over, able bodied and reasonably fit.
To enter send your name, address and age on a postcard together with £5 or a cheque made payable to Service Funds to: Free Fall Raffle, SES, RAF Brize Norton, Carterton, Oxon, OX18 3LX.
As a personal challenges this year Mark aims to abseil from a tall building, walk to 29 miles to work and undertake a wing walk. Visit www.justgiving. com/Mark-Gooding237 to help