Ian Davies, 59, of Oswestry, is to row the Atlantic this Christmas to raise funds for Myeloma UK following successful treatment for cancer.
Ian is part of a four-man team planning to complete the 3000-mile challenge from La Gomera in the Canary Islands to Antigua in the Caribbean. The team plans to set off on December 12th and aims to arrive in Antigua 45-55 days later. The challenge is made even more remarkable by the fact that Ian was diagnosed with myeloma, a type of blood cancer, in 2014. His left hip bone almost completely disintegrated due to the condition, with only a very small amount of socket joint preventing his femur (thigh bone) from breaking through into the pelvic cavity.
‘I was diagnosed with multiple myeloma a week after swimming the Channel as part of a relay team in July 2014, to raise funds for Aspire (a spinal injury charity). I’d had some pain, but thought it was a groin strain. It steadily got worse – so much so that by the time of the Channel crossing, I was walking with a stick. However, we managed the swim in 15 hours and 16 minutes.
‘I had 18 months of treatment including chemotherapy, followed by a bone marrow transplant on my 55th birthday, after which doctors confirmed I was in full remission. Remarkably, post-transplant, I was told I didn’t need a hip replacement as the bone had regenerated. I then started to regain my fitness slowly, with a combination of pool-based physiotherapy and gentle exercise.’
Ian, a former rugby international Hong Kong Sevens player, decided to do something really special to mark his recovery. ‘More people have climbed Everest than have rowed the Atlantic, which meant it was probably the kind of challenge I was looking for,’ he says. ‘The hardest part is getting to the start line with a boat, a team, and all the equipment required,’ Ian continues. ‘It’s taken three years, in fact – plus we’ve had to raise the £100,000 needed to fund the project. But if you’re not prepared to do something every day towards the challenge you’ve set yourself, then do you really want to do it?!’