A NORTH Yorkshire man who was diagnosed with cancer just 24 months ago is gearing up to run the London Marathon to help raise vital funds to support more young people and children with cancer.

Toby Bentley, 25, who grew up in Catton, near Thirsk, received a shock diagnosis of Hodgkin lymphoma on the day of the London Marathon in 2017.

Two years on, and now cancer free, Toby is training hard to take on the 26.2 miles challenge on April 28 in aid of CLIC Sargent, a charity that supported him through it all.

Toby, who now works as a financial adviser in London, said: “It was from the first day of being diagnosed that I was inspired to sign up for the marathon. It happened to be the day of the London Marathon and I was stood alone on London Bridge. I can remember it so vividly.

“I was in my robe and then there was everyone finishing the marathon with their medals and that’s when I promised myself I would do that. I had spent my first night in intensive care as tumours had narrowed my airways. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without being breathless and now I know I will finish the London Marathon like I have finished my treatment.”

Toby was on a ski holiday with friends when he first noticed something wasn’t right. He visited his doctor and what was initially thought to be a chest infection, turned out to be stage 3/4 Hodgkin lymphoma.

Toby said: “I had been suffering from a chesty cough for a while and so I visited my doctor a few times but they just kept sending me away with antibiotics and an inhaler – diagnosing it as a chest infection. Being young and otherwise healthy, I kept thinking I’ll be fine.

“As time went on however, I was really struggling for breath and was throwing up. I just kept thinking there is something wrong with me and so I went back to the GP.”

Toby was eventually told he had Hodgkin lymphoma, with growths around his windpipe and chest, which had spread down to his belly button. Once diagnosed, his treatment started quickly at Guy’s Hospital in London.

He said: “No one really warned me how bad chemo and the side effects would be. I wasn’t able to sleep or breathe properly. Everything just hurt and I had months of just trying to get through every day.”

Toby went into remission at the end of 2017. Last year he had a one year scan that confirmed he is still clear of cancer.

While he was receiving treatment, Toby was supported by CLIC Sargent, the UK’s leading charity for young cancer patients and their families.

Toby said: “Friends can treat you a bit like you’re in a zoo as they don’t know what to say, but Liz, my CLIC Sargent community worker, made me feel less like a victim and normal – and realise I’m still just a young person going through something bad – but I don’t need to be defined by that.

“If it hadn’t been for Liz and CLIC Sargent, I think I would have just drifted through my treatment and felt alienated. She was just there for me to both emotionally and practically support me.”

Toby is now back at work full-time in London and is now training for the marathon in his spare time. He has signed up to take on the challenge as part of a team of five, alongside his girlfriend Emily, brothers Chris and George, and friend Nikola. Together they have already raised more than £13,000.

Toby said: “You never know how much a charity can help you until it happens to you. I was lucky I wasn’t too financially affected by my cancer and had family and friends to support me. I have seen that not everyone is so lucky. I want to help others have the support I did and have access to whatever they need.”

To sponsor and support Toby’s marathon challenge, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/toby-bentley.

If you are running the London Marathon, share your story by emailing newsdesk@thepress.co.uk