Dad’s ‘great run’ for Cancer Research UK after beating the disease three times

A Hull dad of-two who survived cancer three times has run a half marathon to raise money for Cancer Research UK and support others fighting the disease.

Taking part in the Great North Run marked 20 years of being cancer-free for Carl Mitchell, as he battled a rare form of cancer called spindle cell sarcoma from the age of 16.

It took several years to recover from the disease and Carl still attends check-ups to make sure it hasn’t returned.

Riverside's Carl Mitchell from Hull survived cancer three times.
Riverside’s Carl Mitchell from Hull survived cancer three times.


And his charity efforts have boosted a massive £88,000 raised so far by staff at housing association Riverside, where Carl works.

“I had the tumour for nearly two years before I was diagnosed. I visited my GP with swelling in my left hand, he didn’t really know what it was but didn’t think it was anything serious. I was sent on my way and told not to worry, so I did just that and carried on being the typical 16-year-old sports-mad kid,” says Carl from Bransholme.

“The swelling didn’t go down but the pain eased a little over time. A few months later I knocked the lump and I was in severe pain. The area went hard and grew to half the size of a golf ball! I had an operation to remove the lump, and was diagnosed with spindle cell sarcoma. I was 18 years old and in the following months I had more surgery and extensive radiotherapy, it all looked good.”

Carl began living life as a teenager again but 10 months later the lump reappeared in the same spot. He was immediately referred to a specialist unit at St James Hospital in Leeds.

The 41-year-old, who works for Riverside as Head of Social Housing for the North, said: “The doctor explained the seriousness of the situation and the aggressive nature of the cancer I had. Extensive surgery followed and then chemotherapy treatment for six months. Doctors said that it was a rare form of cancer and that they were consulting with medics in America.

“The chemo cleared all the tumours for two years, but during that time I was attending check-up appointments in Leeds. Then ‘bang’ it was back! Although this time there were no signs of it like before. I was fit and active and I couldn’t see or feel anything. But I knew there was something wrong and I didn’t feel right. Tests confirmed that it had come back again.”

Further surgery and invasive chemotherapy followed and Carl suffered hair loss, tiredness, severe sickness and loss of appetite, secondary infections and ailments.

Today, Carl is a fit and healthy dad to 11-year-old Robbie and Olivia aged seven. He’s grateful for the support given by Cancer Research UK (CRUK), and taking part in the half marathon is his way of giving something back.  

Riverside's Carl Mitchell from Hull survived cancer three times
Carl Mitchell completed the Great North Run!


CRUK is also Riverside’s corporate charity, and Carl’s £879 raised will be put in to the grand pot with more donations coming in.

Talking about the challenge, Carl added: “The half marathon was really tough at times and I struggled through the pain, especially when I reached the 10-mile mark to the finishing line. The last three miles felt like an eternity. The pain and the countless hours of training was worth it in the end.

“I’m proud to be representing CRUK. Thankfully I came through the tough times and a fair few scares along the way. The remarkable treatment and care I received from medical staff who treated me, supported by the research, knowledge and expertise of CRUK has enabled me to have two lovely children. I’m also with the love of my life, Alix, and I enjoy and appreciate every second of being alive. This is my way of giving something back to those that need help as I did many years ago.”