A rugby player who battled cancer has raised more than £3,500 for the cancer centre which treated him to mark the anniversary of his recovery.
Holywell Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Gareth Price, who was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin lymphoma while training for North Wales Police in 2006, wanted to make life easier for cancer patients undergoing gruelling chemotherapy at Glan Clwyd Hospital where he received treatment at the age of 21.
The 31-year-old, whose parents Gail and Daryl Price own Coedmor Care Home in Abergele, sold raffle tickets at the care home, organised an auction night and agreed to have his legs waxed alongside five of his Denbigh Rugby Club teammates in return for sponsorship.
So far, he has raised £3,500 which will fund at least 10 tablets, four TV screens, a fridge and a host of portable DVD players to help relax cancer patients and relieve boredom during their chemotherapy sessions.
Proud mum Gail, who has run Coed More Care Home, a member of Care Forum Wales, for the past 34 years, said it had meant so much to her son to give something back to other cancer sufferers.
“I’m so proud of him for turning what was a frightening time into a positive experience for other cancer patients,” said the 59-year-old, from St Asaph.
“When you think about how young he was it’s scary but Gareth always took everything in his stride and was full of confidence.
“The support we’ve received for the fundraising has been fabulous. All of the staff and the residents’ families dug very deep and I’m so proud of their efforts. Some of the staff donated prizes for the raffle and they all decided not to send Christmas cards this year and instead put the money towards the cause.
“Gareth wasn’t even born when we originally got the home but he’s grown up here ever since and everyone knows him. They were more than happy to help out.”
Mario Kreft MBE, the Chair of Care Forum Wales, congratulated Gareth and care home staff for their dedicated fundraising work.
“It’s fantastic to see everyone at Coed More Care Home getting behind such a personal and worthy cause and I applaud their commitment and generosity. Gareth’s very poignant story has helped make life a little easier for other cancer patients undergoing the challenges of chemotherapy and I wish him the best of luck for his ongoing fundraising.”
Gareth, who lives with his partner and two children, discovered a painless lump in his collarbone when he was 20. He made an appointment with his GP and underwent a series of hospital scans and blood tests before being diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin lymphoma – an uncommon cancer that develops in the lymphatic system.
At the time, Gareth was halfway through his PCSO training and had to withdraw after failing his medical.
“I was always in the gym so initially I thought I’d pulled a muscle. My mum had a medical background and she said I should get it checked out,” he said.
“I had a biopsy operation the day after my 21st birthday then I had around 20 different tests, most of which came back negative. When I was eventually diagnosed, I had to have four months of chemotherapy at Glan Clwyd Hospital followed by 20 sessions of radiotherapy.
“I found chemotherapy relatively easy. I kept my hair all the way through until the very end when I used a power shower and it all came out.
“Radiotherapy was very painful. I lost two stone and couldn’t eat for a month because of the pain in my throat. I couldn’t swallow and had to have soup for Christmas dinner.
“I’m very laid back but it was worse for my mum. She was devastated. I asked the doctor ‘what’s my survival rate?’ and she said it was very good. That’s all I needed to hear.
“I was a healthy young lad, I was always in the gym, I didn’t smoke, I didn’t abuse my body, and so I knew I wasn’t going to be in that 15% or 20% whatever it was.
“The toughest part for me was the waiting around during chemo. I was there every single day and you could be sitting there for seven hours. It’s 10 years ago now but I always wanted to do something to help.
“I help fundraise in work and I wanted to give something back with it being the 10 year anniversary. The time just felt right.
“I wanted to make the whole process of chemo a little bit easier and so I wanted to provide some kind of entertainment so the patients’ could directly benefit.”
Gareth, a former pupil at St David’s College in Llandudno, organised an auction night at Denbigh Rugby Club where he plays which raised £750. The highlight of the evening was the sponsored leg wax.
“We’ve been so pleased with the support from everyone from the care home staff and the families of the residents, through to strangers who don’t even know me but wanted to support the cause,” he said.
“The care home staff promoted it all on Facebook, they’ve been top notch and we can’t thank them enough. Everyone has chipped in and helped.”
The fundraising total is set to rise higher as Gareth’s local gym has pledged to donate tea and coffee money while Tesco in Holywell is organising a staff cake sale.
Gareth has agreed to buy portable chemotherapy drips and stands with the remaining funds and hopes to organise future events in aid of the ward.