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A man on a fundraising mission

Sergeant Mark Gooding is fundraising for the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Anthony Nolan TrustMark Gooding is undertaking fundraising events to raise over £115,500 for the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Anthony Nolan Trust. Here Mark tells us why.

I joined the RAF back in 1984 and I’m a Survival Equipment Fitter. My first posting was to RAF St Mawgan but I have since been to Aldergrove, Bruggen, Marham, Coltishall, Lyneham and finally Brize Norton where I am currently stationed. I have travelled the world, and served in both Gulf Wars.

I'm also a cancer survivor. On the 21st December of 2008 I was diagnosed with a large lump attached to my aorta which, after subsequent testing, was found to be high grade non Hodgkin lymphoma (a form of blood cancer).

I started chemotherapy about two weeks later and after six months was given the all clear.  I lived a normal life for the next two years.

However, in April 2010 I slipped on a wet rock and fell snapping my arm below the shoulder. Subsequent hospital testing showed that the cancer had returned and was in my spleen, the head of the left humerus and there was a trace in my left armpit.

I started treatment again which culminated in a re-transplant of my own harvested stem cells following high dose chemotherapy to kill off my marrow.

The idea being that the new marrow would provide a fresh immune system and recognise cancer cells as the enemy and kill them off. Unfortunately this only lasted six months and another tumour was found in my abdomen. 

At my lowest point during the chemotherapy I turned to my wife Mandy and told her that I couldn't face any more chemo and that I was going to take the palliative option, basically it was that bad I chose to die. This was met by a verbal clip around the ear telling me to man up and get on with it! 

Having a wife and a family behind me has been essential to beating my cancer. Needless to say I manned up and got on with it. I promised my children Stephanie, 23, Anthony, 22, Amy, 19 and Kayleigh, 15, that I would do everything in my power to beat this once and for all. 

In November 2011 after a month of radiotherapy and further chemotherapy I went to the Royal Free Hospital in London and underwent a very high risk stem cell transplant with 30% chance of success from an unrelated German man aged 19, which was organised by the Anthony Nolan Trust. 

The RAF Benevolent Fund stepped in and helped my wife with hotel and accommodation costs whilst I was in hospital. They never hesitated to help my family in a crisis and I am so grateful to them for making my situation that much easier and removing the burden of financial strain at a very difficult time in my life.

I am doing a number of fundraising events this year to raise money for both the RAF Benevolent Fund and the Anthony Nolan Trust. These include:

  • Raffle for a tandem skydive and body flight experience with a member of the RAF Falcons
  • Auctioning a signed Red Arrows flying suit kindly donated by Red 1 (which has just sold for £900!)
  • A sponsored walk with my family in August from Wootton Bassett, where I live, to Brize which is 29 miles
  • In August I and eight friends are undertaking a sponsored 400ft bungee jump at Chepstow  - Lastly....yet to be confirmed is an abseil off of a very tall building!

I’m also just trying to get to grips with Twitter and hope to be updating you with my fundraising and progress via @markg237 very soon! 

That's it for this year; I don't do things by half!

By Mark Gooding

We extend our HUGE thanks to Mark and his friends and family for their support and wish him the best of luck with his mammoth fundraising challenges.

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