‘Cancer was a part of my life to overcome’

David Oakley is running the London Marathon for the Teenage Cancer Trust who helped him during his illness.
David Oakley is running the London Marathon for the Teenage Cancer Trust who helped him during his illness.

A man who lost a leg to cancer as a teenager is running this weekend’s London Marathon in aid of the charity which provided him so much support during his illness.

David Oakley, 23, had to drop out of university when he found out he had osteosarcoma, a type of bone cancer which he was alerted to by a painful swelling in his ankle.

He said: “On my 19th birthday, I started five cycles of chemotherapy.

“I had to have my leg amputated two months later in March, but my treatment ended the following July.

“I didn’t really see it as a horrible or difficult thing, I just thought, I have got to deal with this so that I can get on with the rest of my life.”

David, a former pupil of Berkhamsted School who grew up in Northchurch, wants to give something back to the Teenage Cancer Trust.

The charity donated games consoles, pool tables and a camp bed for friends and family to stay over while he was in hospital.

David, now studying for a Masters in chemical engineering at Manchester University, said: “It was just small things like that which made a huge difference, not just for the patients but our families as well. I can’t think of a better charity to support.

“It feels weird when people say I’m an inspiration because I am doing the London Marathon. To me, beating cancer was just a part of my life that I had to overcome.”

One of the biggest challenges David has had to face is getting to grips with his prosthetic leg.

He said: “I used to be quite fit before my illness, so the marathon was always something I wanted to do.

“It has taken a while to get used to my prosthetic leg, as it is quite a hard thing to get right. Sometimes I can’t wear it for a few days as it hurts, so one of the first challenges was getting my real leg used to running on it. It wasn’t my fitness that was going to be a problem, it was my leg being able to do it and not being too uncomfortable.

“I have had a couple of setbacks, so I am nervous, but also really excited for Sunday.”

Since the news of the Boston Marathon bombings on Monday, David said: “It is horrible, and I really feel for everyone involved. But I am still determined to do the race, perhaps more so now.”

David has extended his sponsorship target from £3,000 to £5,000. His total stands at more than £3,600 so far. To sponsor him, visit justgiving.com/David-Oakley90.