Health scare for local lung cancer survivor who ran marathon

Eric Hamilton
Eric Hamilton

A lung cancer survivor has had a second scare — just months after finishing the London Marathon.

Eric Hamilton, 61, was diagnosed with incurable lung cancer in May 2015 and given three months to live.

Man with terminal cancer helped by Abertay to achieve marathon dream

However, a combination of running and the recently developed drug Afatinib gave him a new lease of life.

Eric, who returned to work as a forestry officer only a matter of weeks after treatment, said a new growth had developed.

He told the Tele: “I go for a scan once every few months and my last scan showed a growth. They said I would have to come off of my current drug and go on a new one unless it stopped.

“They haven’t seen any changes — if I keep running and keep what’s left of my lungs in good shape, that should help with the growth as well.”

In April, Eric, from Birkhill, completed the London Marathon in four hours and 45 minutes, less than two years after his diagnosis. He finished in the top half of all entrants, coming in 22,456th out of 50,000.

Since being diagnosed, he has received support from several charities including the Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation.

The foundation is marking Lung Cancer Awareness Month with a new campaign, #HeadHigh, which calls for more funding and tackles misconceptions, such as all those who develop it are heavy smokers.

NHS statistics show that in Tayside, lung cancer claims about 300 lives a year and has accounted for a quarter of all cancer deaths since 1991.

Eric said he had faced stigma after his diagnosis, despite smoking only the occasional cigar.

He said: “I wasn’t a heavy smoker. I was just a social smoker. I had that argument with the hospital at the time.

“When I was growing up, all the family smoked and everyone in the pub smoked — it was like smoking yourself. They said ‘well, that’s probably it’.

“But I’ve known people that never smoked and got lung cancer anyway.”