11:00AM, Sunday 13 August 2017
Don’t take anything for granted and don’t give up. That is the advice from a father-of-two who travelled to America for a revolutionary brain cancer treatment.
It’s now more than two-and-a-half years since Maidenhead electrician Matt Rackley returned from Oklahoma after undergoing proton therapy.
And since then the 27-year-old has returned to work, married long-term partner Hollie and had a second child, six-month-old Ella.
Asked what he had learned from his experience, he said: “Don’t take anything for granted, at all.
“At one point I was very close to being in a wheelchair. I found out I probably should have gone in one, but that was my thing and I think if I had it would have knocked me right down.
“But having Hollie and my family and my whole community coming together, I knew I was very lucky.”
He has yet to be given the all-clear, but doctors have declared his condition stable and he now requires check-ups every six months.
The Matt’s Fund campaign collected £175,000 to pay for the treatment, which is not expected to be available on the NHS until next year.
And he was full of praise for the people he met in Oklahoma, which included a member of the hospital staff who invited him and his family for a Thanksgiving meal during their two-month stay.
“They called it Southern hospitality,” he said.
In September 2015, about nine months after his return, Mr Rackley married his partner Hollie in Bray.
Since then he has also returned to work as an electrician and even started his own business.
Now, his message to anyone going through a similar ordeal is simply ‘don’t give up’, but he admits he was scared by the prospect of missing his son Freddie, who was just two when the family travelled to America, grow up.
“I was terrified,” he said, “that was the main concern, that I wouldn’t be able to see him grow up. It’s silly little things like his first day of school and teaching him to ride a bike – things that make a big difference.”
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