A man with incurable cancer is walking the length of the Offa's Dyke to raise money for charity.
Luke Thomas, 37, will be walking all 177 miles, completing the perimeter of Wales to raise money for the charity Melanoma Focus. It comes after Luke was diagnosed with stage 4 incurable skin cancer in late 2019.
"My journey first started back in 2014 when I noticed an unusual mole on my back and I went to my GP to get it checked out." Mr Thomas said. "It was confirmed as Melanoma skin cancer. Being ignorant, at the time, I thought "it's just skin, it can be cut out". Luckily for me, it was localised melanoma and could simply be surgically removed. Fast forward five years later and I’m living a fulfilling life like any 30-plus-year-old. I’d developed a successful career in architecture and met my lovely partner Yuri. Life was great."
But Luke discovered another mole, this time on his arm. "It was localised and removed. However, something wasn't right. I occasionally started to feel weak, nauseous and on the same side of my body where the mole was removed, my armpit started to swell."
He went to the hospital, where he had a biopsy. "As soon as I walked into the consultant's room for the results I saw the nurse holding a pack of leaflets and my gut sank. I knew. It was confirmed as stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma. It had spread across my skin and in my lymphatic system. It felt like a death sentence."
Luke has 'fantastic' care support at Guys and St Thomas Hospital, London. "I did fall very ill but fully responded to treatment. The medication I'm on is a targeted-based treatment, however, has a patient medium response of 12 to 14 months. I am very grateful to now be in my third year of this treatment. I will continue to fight this disease and live in hope that I have many years ahead of me, especially with continuing advances in medicine."
In 2021, Luke, from Kidwelly, walked the whole coast of Wales, raising over £62k for the charity Melanoma Focus. He's using the walk of the Offa's Dyke to raise even more awareness. "Skin cancer is the 5th most common cancer in the UK and it's on the increase. It's important people are made aware of the dangers and to be safe in the sun. To wear factor 50 when out and to get any peculiar moles checked by their GP."
The architectural designer is also supporting the campaign to cut VAT for sunscreen so that it is more affordable.
Walking the Dyke has come with its own challenges, but Luke has enjoyed seeing the country and stopping at local towns and pubs along the way. "Offa's Dyke has been challenging, but the views and the scenery have been breathtaking. Our next journey takes us to Hay-On-Wye and I'm looking forward to visiting this town."
He's walking with two of his friends, who are helping offer moral support.
Luke isn't letting the diagnosis stop him from doing as much as he can. "Living with an incurable cancer does give me a lot of worry due to the uncertainty. I do live my life to the fullest and taking on a challenge like this not only physically keeps me fit, but also mentally."