A CANCER survivor has shown he is a champion in all senses of the word after completing his seventh gruelling marathon.
Inspirational Bryan Astill crossed the finish line at Sunday’s London Marathon in an astonishing two hours 55 minutes.
And the seven-time marathon runner’s feat is even more impressive as it is one challenge which, at one point in his life, he thought he might not live to see.
Eight years ago, Bryan, 45, was diagnosed with a brain tumour after medics discovered a growth the size of a tomato.
Bryan, from Forester Close, in Seaton Carew, described the moment doctors told him the terrible news.
“I was just devastated, you just think ‘death’ and that’s it.
“That day they told me, I just thought the worst.
“Maybe that’s why I took up running – I never thought I would be here at one point.”
The dad to James, 19, and Matthew, 15, first realised something was wrong when he started getting headaches, which got progressively worse.
He went to the doctor, who thought Bryan had a sinus infection, but referred him to the University Hospital of Hartlepool for tests.
Medics conducted a scan and he was given the devastating news that day that he had a tumour.
The next day, he underwent a minor operation at Middlesbrough General Hospital.
Two weeks later, he had an operation to completely remove the tumour.
After the procedure, he had to undergo yearly checks for four years before doctors gave him the all-clear.
Bryan, a lathe turner, said: “I wouldn’t be here now if I didn’t have that operation.
“I’m all-clear now, it’s not going to come back.
“It was a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Given a new lease of life, Bryan, who is married to Anglian Water worker Dorothy, took up running five years ago.
A year later, he joined Hartlepool’s Burn Road Harriers running club.
Since then, he has completed the London Marathon three times, the Edinburgh Marathon three times and the Nottingham Marathon once.
Last year, he completed the London race in two hours, 54 minutes and 38 seconds and the Nottingham course in two hours, 54 minutes and nine seconds.
Bryan, who used the 2008 London event to raise £600 for the University Hospital of Hartlepool, trained by running 70 to 80 miles each week.
He is also a regular at Ellwood’s gym in Hartlepool.
Speaking about Sunday’s run, he said: “I was quite happy considering I had a virus two or three weeks before.
“It could have gone either way – I could have taken three or four hours to finish.
“The reason I’m so determined now is probably something to do with the tumour.”
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