Retired Northampton teacher fighting cancer races 60 miles in his wheelchair for his 60th birthday

The 60-year-old's surgery was cancelled at the start of the year due to pressures caused by the pandemic, so he decided to loose weight while he waits for the operation

Wednesday, 3rd March 2021, 5:00 am

A retired teacher from Northampton with kidney cancer raced 60 miles over 26 days in his wheelchair for his 60th birthday.

Alan Hackett completed the challenge on his birthday on Friday (February 26) in a bid to lose weight to prepare himself for surgery.

The former teacher, who is still a Northamptonshire union representative for the National Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women Teachers, set himself the challenge after his operation to remove the tumour on his kidney was cancelled in January.

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Alan Hackett clocked up 60 miles in his wheelchair over 26 days, finishing on his 60th birthday.

Alan was told that due to being overweight he would need a high dependency hospital bed, which was not available at the time due to pressures from the pandemic.

Alan, who was previously a keen runner until a back condition forced him to stop, said: “I still wanted to run so I purchased a wheelchair. I can’t walk very far and I can’t stand for very long but put me in a wheelchair and whoosh!

“After the operation was cancelled I thought I’m not going to mope. One of the things they were concerned about was my weight, so I thought I’m going to get fit.

“I wanted to do something for my 60th birthday so decided I would race 60 miles over 26 days.”

The challenge also gave Alan the chance to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support - the charity which has helped him since he was diagnosed 18 months ago.

Alan added: “When I was first diagnosed I felt very alone and I’m quite a strong person so it was great to have that support on the end of the line.

“At that point the consultants were not really giving me the information that I wanted.

“I needed to understand what certain terms meant, what the recovery rates were like, things like that.

“The specialist on the support line was so good and really helped me to make sense of everything and feel informed. It’s kind of like a 911 if you have cancer.”

During the month of February, Alan clocked up the miles in his local parks and have even lost 18 pounds.

He has also more than doubled his £600 fundraising target and raised more than £1,500 for Macmillan.

“It feels great and has taken a lot of the anxiety and frustration out of having to wait by turning a negative into a positive,” Alan continued.

“My mental health has suffered lately and there have been days where I’ve felt quite depressed, but doing this challenge has lifted my mood and given me a purpose.

“Every day I’m waiting I can get fitter and it’s giving me a better chance of recovery after the operation. I like to think of myself as the tortoise, going slow and steady and cancer is the hare.

“Eventually I will get there. Slow and steady will beat cancer.”

After his operation, Alan’s goal is to complete the Great North Run in his wheelchair to raise more money for Macmillan.

Ellen Finn, Macmillan fundraising manager for Northamptonshire, added: “Alan’s positive outlook is really inspiring.

“To have taken on this challenge at such a difficult time is just incredible and we are so grateful for his support.

“The money he has raised will enable us to do whatever it takes to ensure people affected by cancer in Northamptonshire get the support they need right now.”

To support Alan and make a donation, visit his JustGiving page.

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