David Hills was diagnosed with stage three cancer of the larynx after suffering from symptoms including a hoarse voice, difficulty in talking and a painful throat.
Since his successful treatment, the 58-year-old now regularly mentors cancer patients at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge.
David underwent gruelling radiotherapy and chemotherapy treatment at Addenbrooke’s, and this originally was successful. However, his symptoms returned, which led to him having to have his larynx completely removed along with the partial removal of his oesophagus leaving him as a permanent neck breather with a tracheostomy.
He was fed through a tube for several weeks, but thanks to muscle from his chest being used to rebuild his oesophagus he is able to eat and drink normally.
David’s first drink in early December 2018 was a latte followed by a lager later the same day. His first meal was a shepherd’s pie with him eventually being able to build up his food intake so he could enjoy a Christmas dinner.
After the operation, David, who lives in Bury St Edmunds, was unable to speak so he taught himself Oesophageal speech. Since then he has been fitted with a voice prosthesis.
He has six weekly check-ups for cancer and so far it has shown no signs of returning.
In late January he felt able to turn his attention to trying to regain his physical fitness and decided to join the Bannatyne Health Club in Bury St Edmunds.
With the support of the club’s expert staff, he is now enjoying Yoga, Pilates, Step, Body Balance, Zumba classes and regular sessions in the gym.
David is working towards being able to use the pool when special training is given by Royal Devon and Exeter Hospital.
David said: “I was very apprehensive when I decided I needed to join a gym after becoming weak and unfit due to my illness and treatment. However, I need not have worried as the support of Bannatyne’s staff has been exceptional.
“They were very thorough when assessing my health and needs and realised I had to take things slowly. As a result, they drew up a fitness action plan perfectly tailored to my abilities and goals. My fitness is so much better since I joined.”
Daryl Johnson, the Club’s general manager said: “Our focus is on healthy living and wellbeing supported by first class advice and training programmes personalised to meet a member’s individual needs.
“It has been an inspiration to see how David has coped with his gruelling treatment and his determination to regain his physical fitness.”
David uses the Myzone app and belt system that allows users to keep track of their fitness progression by measuring heart rate, calories burnt and effort in real time. It also enables users to connect with friends where they can challenge each other and have fun improving their fitness limits.
David was third on the new starters’ monthly leader board and eighth on the main monthly leaders’ board – no mean achievement!
"I was very apprehensive when I decided I needed to join a gym after becoming weak and unfit due to my illness and treatment. "