My name is Mark Fradgley. I'm a 39 year old Assistant Head teacher, living near Tunbridge Wells in Kent with my wife Megan and our two beautiful girls, Seren and Gwen.
I have cardiac and skeletal angiosarcoma. I was diagnosed with it in 2009 after many months of 'not feeling right', when tests showed that I had a tumour in the right atrium of my heart, and several lesions in my pelvis, spine and sternum.
A surgeon at St Thomas' Hospital in London excised the tumour from my heart and replaced it with bovine tissue; hence the term 'Bullheart'. I walked out three days later and have since been annoying a variety of different Oncology teams since! Sarcoma is an incredibly aggressive type of cancer; and mine is one of the rarest in the world; there is no cure, and most folk die fairly quickly as it has an astonishing mortality rate.
For five years I remained in good health, with full dormancy of my cancer. The specialist oncological teams working with me were baffled; this had never happened before, and I was lucky to be well enough to participate in a great number of physical challenges in order to raise money for good causes, such as Sarcoma UK and the UCLH Oncology Fund. In March 2015 I noticed that there were some physiological abnormalities that were consistent with the disease coming back, and on examination this was indeed the case. I underwent two separate chemotherapy regimes for nearly six months, and eventually had my back muscles fully resected on the right hand side in October 2015.
It would be wrong to state that I'm not scared of dying. To be honest, I'm fairly terrified! But I'm not the type of person to roll over and give up; My magnificent wife, my family and close friends have all commented on how my belligerence and bullish nature will benefit the situation. And you know what? I don't fancy going yet. I've too much to live for. So I'm going to fight for it. Because if anyone can beat the odds on this, I can.
Originally I decided, as part of my rehabilitation in 2010, to complete a cycle ride from John O'Groats to Lands End. And I felt that combining this with fundraising for Sarcoma UK would be the most appropriate action. Sarcoma UK's objectives are to publish information about sarcoma, develop support services for patients, develop educational opportunities for professionals and patients, and to empower patients as representatives and advocates working for the benefit of all patients.
I'm was not the only one to take part in this adventure. I had a small group of committed individuals that have agreed to participate. Two had no choice; alas, as wife (Megan) and sister (Laura) they had to back me or face the music... The other was James - to be fair, I had no idea why he'd put himself through the mill, but was grateful all the same! I'm not sure I'd have been able to do this without any of them, so when you think of me, remember I'm just part of a team.
And this is how it all started. Gradually I became better, healthier and stronger. I progressed to 24 hour mountain bike races under the newly formed 'Team Bullheart' monikor, using each one to help raise awareness for a number of important charities, including Sarcoma UK, UCLH Oncology Fund, and the Cystic Fibrosis Trust. To date we have raised over £30,000, and continue to do so; many different caring individuals have participated in Team Bullheart charity events, and all contributed to the overall philosophy of not giving up, and helping those in need.
Life is an important gift. Every minute we spend on this earth is a privilege; not a right. I gave my word when I found out that I was ill that I would do two things. I would do all I can to help those with sarcoma through fundraising. And I wouldn't give up. Ever.