Athlete’s Rare Condition Feels Like Fire Underfoot: London Marathon Quest

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A spirited athlete, Dominic Moore, aged 28 from Huddersfield, faces a rare “one in six million” ailment that brings a sensation akin to stepping on scorching embers, owing to nerve damage in his feet. He’s gearing up to brave the London Marathon, dedicating his run to the charity that played a pivotal role in his survival.

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The eve of 2015’s last day found Dominic reveling in the festivities, carefree. However, mere days into the new year, alarming bruises surfaced across his skin, accompanied by blood blisters in his mouth.

With his mother, Sarah, a 50-year-old nurse, the unusual symptoms prompted swift action, leading to a GP visit. Dominic, employed by Jet2 as a roster executive, was initially dismissed with depression medication.

Persistence led to another GP consult and, following exhaustive testing, Dominic, then just 20, received a dire diagnosis at Huddersfield Royal Infirmary in January 2016: aplastic anaemia. His bone marrow was failing to produce sufficient new blood cells. Doctors grimly advised he had mere days left without intervention.

From a robust footballer to a life hanging by a thread, Dominic recounted to PA Real Life the abrupt shift in his reality.

Commencing immediate treatment at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit in St James’s University Hospital, Leeds, Dominic faced chemotherapy and a bone marrow transplant from an American donor, alongside numerous transfusions.

Despite improvements post-transplant, Dominic contends with lasting effects, including foot nerve damage, eliciting a constant “burning” as he walks.

Multiple times, death loomed close during his hospital stay. Yet now, Dominic sets his sights on the 2024 TCS London Marathon, a chance to support the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Dominic’s story carries a message of hope post-treatment, embodying the resilience and determination to beat the odds.

Back in January 2016, Dominic’s condition led to a two-year battle at the Teenage Cancer Trust unit. Aplastic anaemia, he learned, was a rarity affecting “one in six million,” with him being among the five known cases in the UK at the time.

Daily blood and platelet transfusions, six chemotherapy cycles – all fell short. A bone marrow transplant became the critical next step. With no familial matches, the charity Anthony Nolan revealed three potential global donors. An American proved the best fit, though a system glitch delayed the procedure.

Facing the brink of death, Dominic’s family weighed options to expedite treatment, but his resolve never wavered.

Dominic’s first year was marked by loss, funerals of ward acquaintances, teaching him the value of life and the futility of self-pity.

October 2016 saw his swift transplant. Now, humorously, he claims a 98% American identity.

The subsequent days weren’t devoid of struggle – battling Graft-versus-host disease and a staggering daily intake of 65 pills at one point, including the promising trial drug Rituximab.

Dominic’s platelet count remains low, barring contact sports – a tough blow for the former footballer. Chemotherapy expanded his toenails, necessitating removal, and the lingering nerve damage conjures fiery pain with each step.

Despite these hurdles, Dominic credits his upbeat outlook and the Teenage Cancer Trust’s exceptional care and amenities for pulling him through the darkest times. The ward’s distractions – music, games, and camaraderie – allowed him to momentarily forget his hospital confines.

Post-treatment life required adjustment, returning to work four years later, but Dominic now cherishes life with renewed gratitude.

Expressing immense thanks to his American donor and the hospital staff, Dominic is set to run the marathon again, this time with his friend Jamie. Last year’s efforts raised over £4,000 for the charity.

Though he abhors running and anticipates excruciating pain comparable to “running on coals,” Dominic embraces the challenge. It’s about more than enduring pain; it’s about supporting the ward that saved his life and ensuring future patients have the same fighting chance.

The Teenage Cancer Trust’s challenge events are crucial for supporting young individuals like Dominic through their treatment journeys.

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