National 15.9.2016 11:06 am

Lawrence Brittain shares Rio triumph on World Lymphoma Awareness Day

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 23: Shaun Keelings and Lawrence Brittain of team South Africa during the Rio 2016 Olympics Games Team South Africa welcoming ceremony at O.R Tambo International Airport on August 23, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - AUGUST 23: Shaun Keelings and Lawrence Brittain of team South Africa during the Rio 2016 Olympics Games Team South Africa welcoming ceremony at O.R Tambo International Airport on August 23, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Brittain describes how he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014, but says he had probably been living with it since about 2012.

Today, September 15, marks World Lymphoma Awareness Day, and South African rower Lawrence Brittain’s story of beating lymphoma in 2015 to earn a silver medal in the 2016 Olympic Games is one to note on this day.

Brittain and his partner Shaun Keeling rowed to second place in the the men’s coxless pair event at the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL - JULY 31: Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling during the Team SA Rowers training session at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas rowing venue on July 31, 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – JULY 31: Lawrence Brittain and Shaun Keeling during the Team SA Rowers training session at Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas rowing venue on July 31, 2016 in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. (Photo by Wessel Oosthuizen/Gallo Images)

In an interview with Expresso Morning Show on SABC 3, which was aired this morning, Brittain described how he was diagnosed with lymphoma in 2014 but said he had probably been living with it since about 2012.

He said that while he was training, he was always wondering why he was not getting faster, as he struggled with fatigue. He described how he felt flat, and after a hard training session, he would not be able to recover fast enough for his next session.

“The doctors and physiologists follow us so carefully. We get assessed every week,” said Brittain. For a while, nothing but Brittain’s fatigue showed up, but slowly the blood results showed there were some problems. “It’s a tricky one to diagnose,” said Brittain.

When he was undergoing chemo, Brittain didn’t row. “There was a long time where I wrote rowing off and thought I wouldn’t row again.”

It was only towards the end of his chemo treatment, when his doctors were happy, that he thought maybe he could row again, and he slowly started training. When the doctors gave the all clear, he “put the hammer down”.

Earning the silver medal gives Brittain the belief that the team’s training is on the track, and now he hopes to capitalise on the medal and to go for gold in the next Olympic Games.

On the Lymphoma Coalition website, lymphoma is described as having more than 60 subtypes and the website is using World Lymphoma Awareness Day to encourage patients and the healthcare community to insist on subtype-specific identification as a way to empower patients to receive the best treatment and for better understanding the needs of patients.

Watch the YouTube video posted on the website:

The website further states that more than one million people worldwide live with lymphoma, with 1 000 diagnosed every day.

In South Africa, the advocacy organisation, Campaigning for Cancer helps to give those affected by cancer a voice.

Caxton News Service

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