A father-of-two from Halifax will run in the London Marathon on Sunday hoping to inspire other people who have to be tube-fed.
Electrical engineer Gary Taylor’s life was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with a rare parapharyngeal schwannoma tumour in his neck in 2016. Fortunately, the tumour was benign, however it required invasive surgery which means that Gary will probably never eat a normal meal again.
Gary said: “I was told that I would be nasogastric tube fed for six weeks to recover from surgery but after the surgery I struggled with this and needed a radiologically inserted gastrostomy (RIG) tube which got changed to a low profile balloon gastrostomy tube and I have been fed this way ever since.”
After losing more than five stone Gary had to work hard to regain his strength and adjust to his new life.
“It took some time to emotionally adjust. I didn’t want to leave hospital, I had panic attacks and dinner times were tough, I used to grind my teeth as if I was chewing too. Now I’m becoming less self-conscious about my condition and I sit with my family and join in with the meal time conversations. It’s the simple things like having a cup of coffee that you can take for granted but I focus on my family, keeping fit and feeling strong now.”
Gary added: “I want to do this to show people who are starting to tube feed that it isn’t the end of the world. You will sometimes feel down. You will sometimes feel afraid and you will come across hurdles that you need to work around, but you can do anything you used to do. I still work and play football.
“I’ve had huge support from my family, friends and my Nutricia Homeward nurse specialist. If I can do it, anyone can.”
Gary will require supervision throughout the run which has taken months of preparation. He will need to carry and change a backpack containing a mixture of enteral nutrition, water and electrolytes. This will be delivered via a feeding pump to help him get the right balance of energy and nutrients during the marathon. The equipment will need to be changed three times during the run and a volunteer support runner will be on hand to assist with the equipment.
To support Gary’s chosen charity visit: https://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/GaryTaylor46.