'I noticed something on my passport photo and it saved my life'

A man set to complete a mammoth bike ride from Manchester to Blackpool, has spoken out about being diagnosed with an aggressive form of cancer at just 20-years-old.

Over the course of 2022, Taylor West was experiencing fatigue and general poorliness, with trips to the doctors and various blood tests giving him an eventual diagnosis of glandular fever. However, in December of that year the then 20-year-old found a small lump on his testicles, something that was also explained away.

Seeing his local GP in Stockport, Taylor was reassured the growth had been a cyst - but this wasn't the end of his health journey. "It got checked out and everything was fine, but then I was going to renew my passport, so I obviously needed a photo," Taylor told LancsLive.

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"I shaved before my photo and I noticed I had quite a large lump in my neck, under my jawline. Once I had the passport photo taken, I could tell because I looked quite swollen. Obviously, with the fact I had the other lump two or three weeks prior, I thought I had best get that one checked as well. Straight away, I was booked in for a scan."

Going for a scan, Taylor recalls waiting a while for his results but in the end, they were far from what he expected. Although grew concerned about lumps on his body, medical professionals actually discovered a tumour elsewhere. "It was found totally by accident," the 22-year-old explained. "This was obviously a big shock because without the other lump coming in my neck, I wouldn't have found the actual tumour."

A deeper scan on Taylor finally discovered issues in his thyroid and after two biopsies, he was diagnosed with thyroid cancer on March 28, 2023. "You can't take the risk on these things," Taylor said. Before I got poorly and before I found out, you just feel like you're invincible. You don't feel like anything's going to happen to you and you're not particularly afraid that it could be over so soon, not until you're told it could be. It just altered the way I looked at life from then."

Taylor's first surgery

Following the diagnosis, Taylor underwent his first surgery at Stepping Hill Hospital to remove the tumour in late May 2023. However, post-operative tests showed the cancer had spread to his lymph nodes, meaning he would need a second surgery to remove his thyroid, lymph nodes and glandular tissue. Then, in October 2023, Taylor was admitted to The Christie Teenage and Young Adult (TYA) unit for radioactive iodine treatment due to the aggressive nature of his condition.

During this time, he endured a five-day period of isolation and could only see family members briefly, with no other interactions. "It's basically swallowing a pill, but then your body becomes radioactive so I had to stay in a lead room and I wasn't allowed contact with people in the room for more than 15 minutes or so," Taylor explained.

"That was one of the hardest parts. Being locked in a room basically, without being able to have a bit of a chat with people, it was difficult in there." Fortunately, this treatment was a success and now, Taylor will just need regular scans for the next decade. To show his appreciation to The Christie, Taylor will be participating in the Manchester to Blackpool bike ride on Sunday, July 14.

Taylor in hospital
The Manchester to Blackpool bike ride will take place next Sunday

How you can help

Over 4,000 cyclists of all abilities and ages will take part, starting at the Imperial War Museum at Salford Quays, going along the scenic routes of Lancashire and ending up at the iconic Glitterball on Blackpool's South Promenade. Helping Taylor complete the challenge will be his family members, including father Ciaran, as well as some work colleagues from his family business, Westfield Minibuses. You can support Taylor's bike ride by donating to his Just Giving page.

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