Music teacher with stage four cancer set to run London Marathon 2024 with a trombone

Nathaniel running with his trombone across Tower Bridge
Nathaniel wants to prove that a diagnosis like his does not mean that life is over -Credit:Julian Benjamin

An east London music teacher with stage four cancer is set to run the London Marathon while playing the trombone. Nathaniel Dye, 38, from Hainault was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2022 but he has made it his mission to show people that life does not stop after news like this, he said.

He is a major running enthusiast, running hundreds of miles at a time - even breaking an unofficial Guinness World Record for the longest run with a colostomy bag fitted, he said. Incredibly, Nathaniel actually ran home from the hospital after he was told he had cancer.

He spoke about receiving the news. He said: "You walk out of that room a different person. But I ran home from hospital because running - even when I was really ill - running was just with me. In fact I did my first 100 miler two days before the colonoscopy that would give me a diagnosis."

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"I've never felt worse after a run, so I may as well do that," Nathaniel added.

Nathaniel playing his trombone
Nathaniel said he unofficially has the world record for longest run with a colostomy bag attached - 100 miles from Essex to London -Credit:Julian Benjamin

The addition of the trombone also comes from a place of passion. He said: "It's always been with me the trombone. In fact, when my life became really quite difficult in my mid-twenties I lost my fiance.

"My reaction to basically get a break from reality for a bit was being a backpacker - going around the world, doing some busking with the trombone and playing in cafes and stuff all over the place. So I guess I've kind of just resorted to the trombone when things have got tough."

Nathaniel added: "I call it combining my two great passions really."

Running the London Marathon is Nathaniel's way to raise money for Macmillan Cancer Support which has been "a lifeline" for him sometimes with their helpline and free counselling. He has raised over £18,500 on his Just Giving page so far. Donators can choose a track for his trombone playlist during the race, he said.

Nathaniel running with his trombone
Donators to Nathaniel's Just Giving page can choose tracks for his trombone playlist in the London Marathon -Credit:Nathaniel Dye

He has also set up his own website where he posts a blog about his experience with cancer during which he has developed a love for writing. Because of this, he has written articles for lots of publications like Runners World magazine for which he made the cover and wrote a feature.

Adele Roberts is a great source of inspiration for Nathaniel as she set the world record for the fastest time running a marathon with a stoma at last year's London Marathon with a time of 3:30:22. "She's kind of my role model in a way," Nathaniel said and he added he wanted to challenge her to run 100 miles as he did.

Adele Robert with her world record after the London Marathon 2023
Adele Robers is "kind of my role model in a way," Nathaniel said, after she ran the London Marathon with a stoma last year - breaking a world record -Credit:John Phillips/Getty Images

Signs of Nathaniel's cancer first started showing in autumn 2021. He said running was "pretty much an addiction at this point", going 80 miles a week the fastest he ever had. But gradually he was getting slower for no apparent reason.

Symptoms were at first intermittent but gradually became worse and near constant. Nathaniel had to go to the loo a dozen times a day, passing blood, alongside abdominal pain by September 2022, he said. During this time he had visited a GP who had sent him away diagnosing him with simple constipation.

Finally, the doctors started listening to him and by late October he was diagnosed with stage four bowel cancer which has spread to his liver, lungs and lymph nodes. On his 37th birthday, he started chemotherapy in mid-December 2022.

"When the worst happens, I don't know if everyone does, but I really sought normality," Nathaniel said, "So I went to work - it was like nothing had happened until I had to go off sick for chemo." He even returned to teach music last term at his school from September to December 2023.

Nathaniel running
"Running was always with me," Nathaniel said -Credit:Julian Benjamin

Surgery for a bowel obstruction in mid-January 2023 meant Nathaniel was "cut up like a fish" and left with big scars but his ever-positive spirit was undeterred.

He said: "I did start my running comeback whilst I was still in hospital; about four or five days after surgery because I had a little trot around the hospital ward and I got told off by a nurse for running, like 'What on earth are you doing?!'"

Nathaniel had a message he wanted to give to other people facing cancer. He said: "What I'm doing with this marathon is showing that while some people when they get something like this - like a terminal diagnosis - you just assume your life's over but I want to prove that it's not.

"You keep going as long as your body lets you and thankfully at the moment today's a good day."

In the run-up to the marathon, Nathaniel has been doing lots of interviews to spread this message and just after he had been for an interview at ITV he said his phone was stolen straight from his hand by a moped rider as he stood on the pavement messaging his friends.

"Could be worse," the ever-resilient Nathan told MyLondon on his new phone.

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