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A paracanoeist who lives and trains in Nottingham has opened up about his battle with cancer just weeks after winning medals at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and world championships. Stuart Wood, 28, who lives in Cropwell Bishop, trains at Holme Pierrepont, the National Water Sports Centre, and won bronze at the Paralympics and then a silver at the world championships in Copenhagen in 2021.
Stuart’s disability is congenital, as he was born without a tibia in one of his legs and had to have a leg amputated before he was a one-year-old. But all he did growing up was try his hand at every sport he could.
That eventually led him to take up paracanoeing, where he has represented Great Britain at the Paralympics and world championships. Weeks after winning the medals, he was diagnosed with cancer after finding a lump on the back of his neck.
Speaking to Nottinghamshire Live, Stuart said: “In hindsight, there were some early hints as some gym numbers were not quite as they should be and levels of fatigue that we couldn’t really explain. At the time, we put it down to stress with the Games coming up which masked some of those early signs, and I lost some weight too.
“But after getting back, I noticed a lump on my neck and checked it out after the world championships, but then the weight loss ramped up, I ended up losing around 15kg, and I wasn’t recovering the way I should. I saw my GP and she thought immediately I could have cancer.
“I was referred to hospital and it was just under four weeks between seeing my GP and getting my first round of chemotherapy. The service was incredible.”
Stuart says his heart sank when he told he had cancer. He says his network of support has helped him to get him through it all.
Stuart said: “In that moment when someone says ‘you’ve got cancer’, you immediately think the worst and your heart sinks. I got one of the types these days that are better at being treated.
“That first month between diagnosis and treatment was by far the worst, as you don’t necessarily have a plan or any idea of what might happen. Once I’d got a treatment plan, mentally it was much easier.
“The chemotherapy was not the most enjoyable at all because of the side effects. The support I’ve had has been incredible, and my girlfriend Lindsay Thorpe has raced at the World Cup for the first time this year, which is incredible given the winter she’s had.”
Jonathan Wood, who lives in Tollerton, is an experienced Paralympian and taught and mentored Stuart as he progressed as a paracanoeist. When on holiday in France in December 2012, Jonathan was skiing when he hit a jump too fast, was catapulted around 12 metres into the air and landed on his feet, but his legs buckled underneath him, and he broke his back.
Jonathan was treated at the National Spinal Injury Centre, and took up sport as part of his rehabilitation. He is himself a silver world championship medallist in paracanoeing, achieved in 2014 during his first full season of racing.
He said: “We’re a tight knit squad, and we’ve all been through our own personal trauma, we understand that having people around you is what makes it easier. It didn’t change Stuart as a person, he dealt with it in his own way – analytically, process what is the treatment, rate of success and how to deliver that.”
Jonathan then organised a mass relay to raise money for Lymphoma Action, Stuart’s charity of choice. The 200m course was completed 200 times by athletes and staff at British Canoeing at Holme Pierrepont.
Jonathan said: “On the morning, it was full on monsoon conditions and I thought, this is going to be tough, it’s not going to be fun… But at 2pm, the rain and wind stopped, the sun came out and it was exactly what I wanted it to be – a party on the water.
“It felt like a good opportunity to use canoeing as the chance to commemorate what Stuart has been through and to welcome him back into the fold. We’ve raised around £1,350 so far.”
Stuart is now back on the water and is training towards full fitness with the hope of competing again soon.
Written by: thehitnetwork
The owners have issued a new statement