Cancer survivor’s Olympic dream

Reece Palmer, 18, from Pelton Fell, is in the Team GB disabled athletics development class.'He is in remission from Hodgkin's Lymphoma.'Pictured with his parents David and Vickie and sister Jade.

Reece Palmer, 18, from Pelton Fell, is in the Team GB disabled athletics development class.'He is in remission from Hodgkin's Lymphoma.'Pictured with his parents David and Vickie and sister Jade.

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THIS Olympic hopeful has battled his way back from cancer to stand on the podium once more.

Reece Palmer is in development training with Team GB, but at 17 he was diagnosed with a form of cancer, Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

Now, seven months later, he is battling his way back to full health – and hopes of Olympic glory.

Reece, who has learning difficulties, was in training with the Team GB athletics squad when he fell during a race last June.

He was taken to a physiotherapist with a suspected groin injury then referred to a doctor before being admitted to Sunderland Royal Hospital to see a haematologist.

He then had an operation to have his lymph node removed. It was examined, which revealed he had cancer.

Reece was admitted to the children’s ward at Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary where he had 12 weeks of chemotherapy.

“It was very difficult when I was first diagnosed,” he said.

“I didn’t feel poorly at first, but then it was hard getting over treatment, and I felt sickly and unwell.”

Reece lives in Chester-le-Street with dad David, 46, mum Vickie, 39, and sister Jade, 21.

“He’s done amazingly well,” said David, who stays at home to care for Reece.

“He has been through a lot, and he never stops amazing us with what he is capable of.”

Reece’s learning difficulties mean he has short-term memory loss, hearing impairment and a speech impediment.

“It has been a difficult time,” said David.

“Reece started athletics in 2009 and now has international recognition.

“He is in the learning disabilities classification in the development squad.”

Before his illness Reece’s personal best time for the 100m race was 12.37 seconds, and he had won gold in the 100m, 200m and 400m races at the Legacy Games at Monkton Stadium in Jarrow.

Mum Vickie, who also cares for Reece, said: “When he was diagnosed our world stopped turning.

“We didn’t even know he was poorly, he had been losing weight and lost his appetite but we just thought it was with training.

“Now he is just so determined to get back to where he was.”

Reece was put into remission two days after his 18th birthday last September and started training again in October.

Earlier this month he ran 60m in 8.10 seconds at the Gateshead College Open Series, which is two-tenths outside his personal best for that event.

He said: “I am pleased to be back training again, and my coach is pleased I am back.

“I am getting fitter, and my ultimate goal would be to go to the Rio Olympics in 2016.”

Twitter: @Monica_Turnbull