By Olivia Grist
‘You have cancer’ is a phrase no one wants to hear, but for David Martin, his diagnosis has pushed him to make the most of his life and now he is encouraging others to do the same.
The 40-year-old, who lives just outside Birmingham, was first diagnosed with stage 4 bowel and liver cancer in 2016. After endless amounts of radiotherapy, chemotherapy, scans and operations, David beat the disease.
“A lot of people recoil when they’re diagnosed with cancer and become quite negative, but being fairly young myself, I wasn’t going to let it stop me,” he said.
David is a motorcycle enthusiast, so when he’d finished his treatment he decided to get on his bike and drive the length of the UK.
Just over a year after receiving the all clear, David was given the devastating news for a second time: his cancer had returned, and this time spread to his lungs. But because it was so spread out it was now not surgically removable.
Once again, David didn’t let it stop him from making the most of his life – only this time, he wanted to encourage others to as well.
He got back on his bike and travelled both America and Norway, meeting new people and sharing his message along the way.
In November 2019 he set up a Facebook page called ‘Get Out and Do Stuff’ after attending a friend’s funeral.
“Being diagnosed with cancer, you meet a lot of people going through the same thing – and unfortunately you lose a few too.”
He added: “It was a couple of comments made at a friend’s funeral that made me realise we all need to get out and do stuff, which is why I set up the page.”
The page documents David’s journey and shares motivational messages encouraging people to do more.
David has also printed out stickers of the phrase ‘get out and do stuff’ to raise money for cancer charities and spread his message.
He said: “People from all across the globe have heard of my story and bought my stickers.
“It really wasn’t set up to do anything major really, but I think I’ve had a couple of thousand stickers printed so far and raised a few hundred pounds for charity in the process.”
David has also been involved in another campaign called ‘Never Too Young,’ which encourages GPs to test people for cancer as early as possible.
“I was only 36 when I was diagnosed, which for bowel cancer is considered quite young.
“It took six to eight months to get my first diagnosis and in that time the cancer had already spread to my liver.
“If bowel cancer is caught early enough it is curable, but GP’s jump to the conclusion that if you’re young then it’s something less serious.”
Nevertheless, David still describes himself as one of the lucky ones as his cancer is stable.
He says: “The number of people with bowel cancer who live longer than five years is quite small, but I’m coming up to that mark and I’m doing ok.”
Although, it’s not just luck David puts his survival down to – he believes his positive attitude and decision to make the most of his life has helped too.
The pandemic has put a stop to David going on anymore adventures, but he hopes to get back on the roads when restrictions are lifted.
David knows his life is limited but plans to continue making the most of however long he has left whilst encouraging others to do the same.