SHIPSTON Cycling Club member Pete Cornthwaite had prostate cancer diagnosed last November and has been keeping a record of his chemotherapy treatment in the club’s weekly newsletter.

Pete, who lives in the town, said: "I was diagnosed with aggressive, metastatic cancer of the prostate last November and started on a four-month course of chemotherapy in mid-February.

"As a very fit man who thought this would never happen to me, it was a big shock.

"I was dreading the effects of the chemo, with six bouts every three weeks, and thought that I would be spending a lot of time sitting around tired – but I was wrong!"

In his diary, Finding Chemo, Pete writes:

"Being fit to start with helps a lot with coping both mentally and physically, and to aid my recovery I was determined to keep as fit as possible throughout my treatment. So regular bike rides and the occasional run have been a big part of my routine.

"Chemo works by knocking off the rapidly multiplying cancer cells but the drug cannot distinguish between the cancer cells and normal healthy cells with a high turnover, so the latter get hit as well.

"These latter cells are hair (slows growth and falls out), skin (small cuts don’t heal – annoying with little finger cuts), gut lining (I won’t go there), but more importantly bone marrow, which produces both red and white blood cells.

"The latter cells are reduced which makes the immune system less effective, so I am extra careful of social distancing as infection through something like Covid-19 would probably see me six feet under! This reduction in the number of red blood cells is the most important for me as a cyclist as my oxygen-carrying capacity is reduced.

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"Four to nine days after the chemo is given is the time the body’s natural cells are affected. You feel very tired and lethargic and exercise is really hard work.

"After that time recovery starts slowly and after 21 days you are feeling pretty good – just in time for the next dose.

"However, the doses are cumulative so having had my fourth dose recently, the effect is really noticeable with my haemoglobin reduced by up to 15 per cent, meaning I have to walk up the occasional really steep hill before the recovery period kicks in (very frustrating).

"However, despite all the drawbacks, I try and exercise at least every alternate day and so far, I have been managing between 80-120 miles a week on the bike and two shortish runs per week, albeit a lot slower than usual but the mental benefit has been enormous."

Pete said: "The message to take away is don’t be deterred by what you might have heard about chemo. If you are fit to begin with and you are prepared to work hard to maintain some fitness during treatment then it makes life more enjoyable and should pay off in the long term – I’ll let you know!"

People can sign up for the newsletter via the club’s Facebook page –