Scottish teenager and fitness fanatic Rob Bichan has opened up about his life while living with an inoperable brain tumor.
In January 2020, then-17-year-old Bichan was diagnosed with Diffuse Intrinsic Pontine Glioma (DIPG), the UK Independent reported. He was told at the time that he had only six to nine months to live.
After Bichan underwent a biopsy that February, his prognosis improved significantly. However, his solidly built body deteriorated from weight gain and side effects from steroids.
Since then, he has gotten back into CrossFit with his girlfriend, Jodie, reigniting his zest for fitness even though he is still living with the tumor.
Now 19 years old, Bichan is sharing his story through Battle Cancer‘s “Are you one of us” fundraising campaign for cancer charities.
Bichan explained that he first realized something was wrong in late 2019 when he started suffering from “blinding headaches that would make my vision blurry.”
It wasn’t until he got an MRI in January 2020 that doctors found the cause of his symptoms, the Independent reported.
“They told me I had six to nine months to live,” Bichan said. “They said if radiotherapy works well enough, you’ll have a maximum of two years.”
Bichan underwent surgery a month later at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, according to the Independent. He said doctors initially believed his tumor to be DIPG, but the “exact nature of my tumor-type is still unknown.”
“They expected the tumor to be high grade, but the cells they got were low grade. It baffled my neurosurgeon, as DIPG, in all instances, is classified as high-grade,” Bichan said.
Following surgery, he suffered from a number of side effects, including double-vision and a lack of feeling in his left side.
After going through radiotherapy for six weeks, he was put on steroids and gained 25 kilograms (55 pounds) in six weeks, the Independent reported.
“It wasn’t just weight gain; it was also water retention. My stomach was rock solid. It was so painful. I had terrible acne, and that was painful as well,” Bichan said.
Despite his health situation, he began to work out again at home with his CrossFit equipment and was able to persuade his girlfriend to join him.
“The pain Jodie, me and my family suffered in those workouts was nothing compared to what we’d been through the year before,” he said, according to the Independent.
“We were fighting something together. It was nice to sort of like celebrate the suffering we’ve been through.”
By October 2020, Bichan was back in a fitness routine and was nominated for a Whatever It Takes (WIT), Mind Over Matter award by his brother at the end of the year.
Rob Bichan said his story is “not all doom and gloom,” adding that he’s “always going to live with cancer, and I don’t have a terrible life.”
“My tumor is now stable; I go for six monthly scans,” he said. “I try to find the positive in everything. Something terrible happened to me, but I’m still going to do the best I can and inspire as many people as possible.”
He continued: “I want to show people that you can still do fitness. If I’m doing fitness, then they can as well. Cancer doesn’t always mean the end of your life — it just means the start of a new path.”
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