How 24 year old personal trainer from Sheffield managed to beat cancer during lockdown

Superfit Jak Thompson who was diagnosed with cancer during lockdown is now clear of the disease. Catherine Scott reports.

Jak Thompson

An ‘inspirational’ 24-year old diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer has been given the all-clear from the disease.

Former personal trainer Jak Thompson, of Broomhall, Sheffield, first noticed symptoms in September 2019 when rashes kept appearing on his chest and wrists. He thought it must be an allergic reaction, but even taking antihistamines didn’t have an effect. Before Christmas he felt a lump in his neck but put this down to a sports massage he’d had the previous day.

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By February Jak started to feel “ridiculously tired” and had a cough. He also noticed the lump had grown, but wasn’t until March that he feared he may have cancer.

Jak thought he had an allergy but the lump on his neck turned out to be stage 4 cancer

“You hear the horrible stories of people getting diagnosed with a life-changing illness, but you never expect it to happen to you. I thought it must just be an infection, I can’t have cancer, but the paranoia started to settle in so I left the gym and walked to the NHS walk in clinic.”

With the country now in lockdown, a video call assessment was made and Jak was referred for an urgent scan. A biopsy confirmed he had stage 4 Hodgkin Lymphoma, the most advanced form of the rare, fast-growing blood cancer.

“It’s the only moment in my life when my mind went blank. I couldn’t think of anything but it was the most memorable thing just because of how grave the news was. My head went to the floor,” said the recruitment consultant.

Jak had 12 sessions of chemotherapy at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital, receiving four different types of chemotherapy drugs. To ensure his care was managed during the pandemic, the teenage and young adult nurse specialist from the haematology team visited him at home to take his bloods pre chemo to ensure he was healthy enough to receive treatment and to provide specialist support.

Determined to keep in shape Jak continued to work out during when he felt able to with the support of Weston Park Cancer Charity, who helped fund some gym equipment he could use in his flat. Five weeks after his final chemotherapy session, Jak received the news that there were no longer any signs of the cancerous cells in his body.

“It was just the best moment of my life. Knowing it had gone, that I didn’t have to worry, that I could tell my partner, family and friends that they needn’t be fearful for my life.”

Emma Clarke from Weston Park Cancer Charity, said: “A cancer diagnosis at any time is extremely tough, but Covid has made it especially hard for young people like Jak. His positive attitude has been truly inspirational and as a specialist cancer charity we were delighted to support him in continuing to maintain his fitness during his treatment by providing him with a small grant which he could put towards buying some weights..”