A MAN thought he’d pulled a hamstring while playing football before he was diagnosed with a rare cancer and went through lifesaving surgery.
Adrian Owens, who used to play for Newcastle Emlyn, first noticed a lump on his right hamstring in December 2020 – but didn’t think much of it.
“I do a lot of training, but I thought I’d just popped a muscle, or put it down as a cyst,” the 36-year-old, from Swansea, told WalesOnline.
But the lump grew bigger and Adrian’s fiancé, Shan, who is a personal trainer, asked him to see a doctor.
He did a biopsy and was told he had sarcoma, a rare kind of cancer that grows in connective tissue.
“I didn’t know what to think. When we left the surgery I went to the gym on my bike, I went for a run and went for a swim in a local lake. I just didn’t know what else to do.
“When you hear the c-word you don’t want to speak about it”.
Adrian first went through five weeks of radiotherapy before undergoing an 11-hour operation on his leg.
The surgeons had to cut off around 80% of his hamstring, and grafted some skin from his back.
Luckily, the treatment was successful and he wanted to return to endurance events which he took up after he stopped playing football.
He completed his first half Iron Man event just after the third week of radiotherapy treatment.
“I asked a nurse for advice and whether it would be damaging for me, and she said it wouldn’t but I might struggle, ” he explained.
“But I did it and completed in in five hours and 40 minutes”.
He is now training for another half Ironman in Fishguard in June, and then his biggest challenge to date, a full Iron Man in Tenby in September.
Adrian says he now wants to raise awareness of sarcoma and make people realise how important it is to remain positive.
“A positive mindset”
“People would feel a bit unsure about talking about cancer around me, but I am very positive about it now,” he said.
“I have spoken to people going through cancer, and I tell them about my experience and the importance of a positive mindset, and being fit and active.”
Shan, inspired by her husband-to-be, is undertaking 11 challenges over the coming months, including triathlons to raise money for charities South Wales Sarcoma Service and Sarcoma UK.
Adrian said he is grateful for his journey and wouldn’t choose to change anything even if he could.
“Now, if people ask me if I would turn back the clock, I don’t think I would.”
“The whole experience has made me appreciate life so much more”.