Dad from Halifax who was told he could lose the use of his legs is marching 200 miles

Brett Swiffen
Brett Swiffen

DOCTORS thought Brett Swiffen’s cancer would stop him walking – and could even claim his life.

But not only has he survived and still has the use of his legs, the brave 34-year-old is taking on a sponsored trek from Halifax to London.

“The doctors have been amazed,” said the father-of-three from Pellon, Halifax. “They’d told me I might not make it.”

Brett was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma on his 30th birthday – May 21, 2007– and was told it was at the most advanced stage.

He underwent intensive chemotherapy to tackle the cancer in lymph nodes in his throat, groin, stomach and right armpit.

He finished the treatment in December 2007 and scans showed the cancer had reduced.

But in May 2009 he returned to hospital after suffering back pain and was given the devastating news that another tumour has been found, this time in his spine.

“I was terrified,” he said. “I was told I’d be lucky if I ever walked again.”

The tumour was removed and he was then told he needed a bone-marrow transplant – a last resort that he might not have survived.

He said goodbye to his family – partner Nicky Brown, five-year-old twins Rosie and Holly and 20-year-old stepson Nicholas – before he went in for the operation in case it was the last time they saw him alive.

But the procedure was a success and, while he needed to be in hospital for several months, he has been working hard to recover and has managed to learn how to walk again.

At first he needed two sticks, then one. Now he is even playing rugby for Halifax Vandals.

He has had to give up his job as a mechanic as doctors say the infection risk is too high but he is keen to keep working, and has a delivery driver job.

He has been told the cancer has reduced and is now confined to just his stomach.

“My family have been really good and a lot of friends have been in touch, some who I haven’t seen since school,” he said.

Brett is now planning to raise money for the Anthony Nolan Trust, which helps people with blood cancer, by walking the 200 miles from London to Halifax.

He will set off from Buckingham Palace – a spot he has chosen because his daughters are interested in the Royal Family – and hopes to arrive in Halifax seven days later on May 19, in time to celebrate his 35th birthday two days later.

“I’m celebrating being able to walk it and we’re having a party on my birthday,” he said.

To sponsor Brett visit