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Equestrian Champ Urges Men to #SpeakOut

Head & Neck Cancer

British equestrian champion urges men to #SpeakOut against head and neck cancer symptoms after sharing his own cancer diagnosis.

Following his diagnosis and successful treatment of head and neck cancer, British and International event rider from Rossendale, Ben Hobday, is helping North West Cancer Research raise awareness of the disease.

Ben, 30, from Haslingden, was diagnosed with Burkitt’s non-Hodgekin’s lymphoma (the fastest growing type of human tumour) in 2015, after his barber noticed a lump on his neck.

The rider had been suffering from a pain in his neck for a few weeks prior to this but put this down to the strains he experiences during his training and competitive events. It was only when the lump was pointed out to him that he decided to visit his GP.

Ben was referred to hospital for a biopsy, which showed that the lump was a cancerous tumour and he was immediately taken to Freeman Hospital for treatment.

Over the next four days, steroids were used to shrink the lump in his neck and Ben was then transferred to a specialist cancer ward, where a central line was inserted into his chest, in preparation for a gruelling five-month course of chemotherapy.

Ben endured ups and downs throughout his treatment. With a weakened immune system, he contracted several infections which he had to fight off in-between his 15-day long chemotherapy courses, using a morphine drip to manage the pain.

After five long months, Ben was discharged from the hospital in November 2016 and received the news that he was finally in remission.

But this was just the beginning of the road to recovery, as Ben’s next focus was to regain his strength and ensure he could get back on his horse to train and take part in the sport he loved. In May 2016, he finally made it back on his horse to compete in the Badminton Horse Trials.

Ben has now been cancer free for three years.

He said: “Before my diagnosis, I was at the top of my game in event riding and felt invincible. I’d had a sore neck for quite a few weeks but thought nothing of it, because I’m always up and down on the horse, it’s part of the job. It wasn’t until some weeks later when my barber pointed out the lump on my neck, that I thought it could be something more serious.

“Going through treatment was the hardest thing I have ever done, but if the cancer hadn’t been caught when it had, it could have been much worse.

“This is why it’s so important to raise awareness for head and neck cancer. I didn’t really know much about it before I was diagnosed and had no idea what the symptoms were.”

Ben will support North West Cancer Research’s #SpeakOut campaign in April and May which will raise awareness of the symptoms of head and neck cancer and encourage people to visit their GP or dentist if they have any concerns.

He added: “Head and neck cancers are one of the biggest cancer killers in the North West and by sharing my story as part of the #SpeakOut campaign, hopefully I can help raise more awareness of the disease and its symptoms, as well as the support we can offer.

“I would urge anyone, man or woman, to visit their GP if they have any concerns, especially if they notice early cancer warning signs.”

To find out more about the symptoms of head and neck cancer and support North West Cancer Research’s #SpeakOut campaign click here.

You can support research into cancers like head and neck by donating today.