Patient with rare cancer inspires nurse's marathon challenge

Press release posted 19 April 2024

Paul Walker, a 45-year-old from Standish in Wigan has stage four cancer. He’s currently having chemotherapy and is taking on the London Marathon for the first time to raise money for The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, the cancer centre that is treating him.

He has also inspired Eilish Molloy, one of his nurses, to take on the Edinburgh Marathon a month later.

Paul, who is married with 2 children, was diagnosed with advanced myxoid liposarcoma, a cancer that starts in the cells that store fat, in July 2018. He found a lump in his groin, went to the hospital for scans and tests, and was told that the cancer, which had started in his right thigh, had spread to his pelvis, femur and spine.

The type of cancer Paul has is so rare that only 72 people will be diagnosed with this cancer in England every year.

He started treatment at The Christie the next month, having 25 daily sessions of radiotherapy and 6 sessions of chemotherapy. It was also around this time that he started getting more into exercise.

“Getting out on my bike or going on a run gave me something to focus on; it gave me a sense of control over my body when I felt I had none,” comments Paul. “It’s been good for both my physical and mental health.”

Over the next couple of years, Paul had extra sessions of radiotherapy and chemotherapy to keep his cancer at bay. He also took part in a clinical trial in 2022, which is where he met Eilish, a nurse in The Christie’s research team. Although he is now on a different type of chemotherapy because the trial wasn’t as effective as hoped, the two made a firm impression on each other.

Paul Walker and his wife Sarah and daughter Evie
Paul Walker and his wife Sarah and daughter Evie

“Eilish is ace, everyone at The Christie is. I had to stay in hospital for my trial treatment and my friends and family couldn’t visit because of the lockdown restrictions at the time, and she was always there for me. Even now, when I’m not on the trial, she’s kept in touch and always checks in on me.”

“I was actually meant to do an Ironman around the time of the trial, but unfortunately, I wasn’t well enough to,” continues Paul. “Eilish was there for me throughout and her support helped me get to where I am now, about to take part in one of the most famous marathons in the world.”

“Paul is such an amazing man,” comments Eilish. “He’s a great example of how modern cancer treatments can help people live well with cancer. We’re still in touch and have been chatting about our marathon training. Seeing his drive and determination gave me the confidence to sign up. I’ll be cheering him on from home and I know he’ll be doing the same for me.”

“My journey has been a rollercoaster so far, so I didn’t tell people that I was planning to do the marathon until February because I wasn’t sure if I’d be well enough to do it,” continues Paul.  “Training has been good because it’s given me something to focus on. I can’t thank The Christie enough for what they’ve done for me, and this is my way of giving back. It’s my first marathon and I’m both nervous and excited. I’ve followed the training plan, and I know the atmosphere will be amazing on the day. It’ll be tough but my wife and kids will be there supporting me and knowing I’m doing it for The Christie will get me over the finish line.”

The Christie Charity supports the work of The Christie NHS Foundation Trust, providing enhanced services over and above what the NHS is able to fund. This support includes money for care and treatment, research, education, and extra patient services. Gifts from the public make a huge difference to the care and treatment that The Christie is able to provide for patients and their families.

Last updated: April 2024