A Halifax father of two, who is unable to eat or drink except through a feeding tube in his stomach, is attempting the London marathon for a second time.
Gary Taylor, 46, wants to inspire others by showing that with support and determination you can achieve amazing things, despite medical challenges.
The electrical engineer was diagnosed with a rare tumour in his neck in 2016. Fortunately, the tumour was benign, however it required invasive surgery which means that Gary can never eat again.
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Gary said: “I was told that I would be unable to eat and drink normally for six weeks after my surgery and would need to be fed through a tube.
"But unfortunately, I struggled to eat normally again, and I’ve been fed through a tube into my stomach ever since and probably always will be. I lost five stone to begin with, my confidence and strength took a big knock.
"I didn’t want to leave hospital, I had panic attacks and I used to grind my teeth as if I was chewing too.
"Now I’m less self-conscious, exercise has really helped me with that. I’m accepting that while I can no longer have my favourite meal or even a cup of coffee, it doesn’t mean I can’t join in with mealtime conversations – its important to not hide away.”, Gary said.
This will be Gary’s second attempt at the marathon. Last year, he ran the marathon on one of the hottest days recorded in the UK. Although he completed it, which is a huge accomplishment, Gary struggled and missed his target time, so he is returning with renewed determination and learnings.
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Gary added: “I want to do this to show people who are starting to tube feed that it isn’t the end of the world. It’s scary and overwhelming but you will adjust and there’s an incredible support network available.
"When I said I wanted to run marathons, I knew there could be complications, but I spoke to my Nutricia nurse specialists and they got completely behind me.
"They want me to live a ‘normal’ life and my nurse, along with my hospital dietitian have done everything they can to support my dreams – it definitely isn’t part of their ‘day jobs’, yet they’re just as excited about it as I am.”
Gary will require expert supervision throughout the run, which has taken months of preparation.
He will need to carry a specialist backpack and feeding pump to constantly deliver the special blend of nutrients, water and electrolytes he needs while running.
The equipment will need to be changed three times during the run and a volunteer support runner from Nutricia will be on hand to assist with the equipment.
Catherine Shakespeare, Head of Nursing at Nutricia said: “Gary is an inspiration to us as an organisation, not only by running the marathon last year and this year but because of his overall attitude, how he handles everything and simply his zest for life.
"I know it’s not been easy, last year was one of the hottest days, but he still persevered. Our services are a small part in his amazing journey and we’re proud to provide the nutritional support and care that Gary needs to fulfil his ambitions.We’ll be cheering him on this Sunday.”