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‘I will pay back lifesaving fee’
AN AIRMAN has pledged to raise £114,000 for a cancer charity – the same amount it spent on his treatment.
Two years ago, Sgt Mark Gooding had almost given up on life after being worn down by three rounds of chemotherapy.
But thanks to a £114,000 bone marrow transplant paid for by the Anthony Nolan Trust, he has now returned to work at RAF Brize Norton.
Sgt Gooding also benefitted from £1,500 from the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund, which paid for his wife to visit him in hospital.
The 47-year-old, from Royal Wootton Bassett, is in remission and has pledged to repay both charities. The father-of-four, who is set to take on a parachute jump, wing-walk and abseil, said: “The whole thing has given me a new outlook on life, a better outlook.
“There’s no reason now why I shouldn’t live a full life, and I’m going to. I’m going to do all the things I’ve always wanted to.
“I’m so grateful to the charity for helping me. I owe them everything.”
Sgt Gooding, of the RAF’s survival equipment training and standards department, was diagnosed with a blood cancer at the end of 2008.
When his doctors told him he had high-grade non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, he endured six months of chemotherapy, but lived a normal life for the next two years.
In April 2010, tests showed the cancer had returned and he started treatment again. Then, six months later, another tumour was found in his abdomen.
He said: “At my lowest point during the chemotherapy I turned to my wife Mandy and told her that I couldn’t face it any more and I was going to take the palliative option. Basically, it was that bad I chose to die.
“This was met by a verbal clip around the ear and her telling me to ‘man up’ and get on with it.
“Having a wife and a family behind you is essential to beating cancer, it’s not easy for a partner and your children to potentially see you slowly dying in front of them.
“Needless to say, I manned up and got on with it.”
Sgt Gooding said he promised children Stephanie, 24, Anthony, 23, Amy, 19 and Kayleigh,15 that he would do everything he could to beat the disease.
After an unsuccessful round of stem cell treatment using his own bone marrow, the trust found a German donor at London’s Royal Free Hospital.
The procedure replaced damaged bone marrow with healthy bone marrow stem cells.
The RAF Falcons have donated a Tandem Skydive and wind tunnel experience to help Sgt Gooding’s campaign, which he is raffling off. Tickets, available for those for over-16, cost £5.
Send cheques made out to Service Funds to: Free Fall Raffle, SES, RAF Brize Norton, Carterton, Oxon, OX18 3LX. To make a donation, visit justgiving.com/Mark-Gooding237