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Cancer survivor takes on Cheltenham's Half Marathon on anniversary of heart transplant

by Press Release
Thursday 30th July 2015

Kyle Garlett, aged 43 from Churchdown, is taking part in Cheltenham’s Half Marathon on Sunday 27th September, to celebrate the anniversary of undergoing a heart transplant, after battling four separate bouts of cancer

Originally from the United States, Kyle underwent his heart transplant on October 10th 2006 in Los Angeles. He said: “I needed the transplant as after a bone marrow transplant in 1995, for cancer, one of my chemotherapy drugs damaged my heart. It was one of four separate battles with cancer that I had between 1989 and 1997.

“I was in the hospital for one week, and had to go through physical therapy for a couple of months. I also couldn’t be out in public for the first three months because of the high levels of immune suppressive drugs I was on. I’m still on them, and I will be for the rest of my life to help prevent organ rejection, but the doses are much lower now.

“When I was growing up I enjoyed teams sports, but I never ran or liked running. I knew however that once I got my new heart I wanted to do something to celebrate, so I signed up for a triathlon for my one year anniversary. That was the Malibu Triathlon in 2007, and I loved every minute of it. I had been sick for so long; I had been either fighting cancer, recovery from cancer treatments, or dealing with a weakened heart for 17 years. To be healthy and strong, and suddenly able to complete a race, when just a year earlier I couldn’t walk a flight of stairs, was the best feeling I’ve ever experienced!

“I now set myself a challenge to take on every year around my anniversary for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, I want to honour my donor. He and his family gave me life that day nine years ago. I can’t imagine the level of pain that they endured on the day of his passing. But I do know the joy that their gift has given me and my family, and I want to make sure that it doesn’t go to waste.

“Secondly, I want people to realise that no matter what limitations they perceive to be living under, they’re wrong. I thought that I would be a slave to my medications, weak, sick and always struggling. I am so happy to have been wrong. We are stronger than we know, and more capable than we give ourselves credit for, and I hope that each year, and each and every time I go out for a run, a bike, a swim, or a hike, I show others what they can achieve. I have twice competed at the Ironman World Championship in Kona, Hawaii, and in 2010 I was a part of the first ever all-heart transplant Ironman relay team, which I am immensely proud of.

“I really love Cheltenham, and the sense of community in the town, even for us ex-pats making a home of it! This year it made sense to set Cheltenham’s Half Marathon as my anniversary challenge for 2015. My expectation for the day is that along all 13.1 miles there will be people cheering, smiling, and encouraging. It will be like one very long party, and each of the people running is the guest of honour!”

Cheltenham’s Half Marathon will take place on Sunday 27th September. The 13.1 mile journey will start and finish next to Pittville Park, and in addition to the famous racecourse, runners will also enjoy the sights of the tree-lined Promenade towards Montpellier, and the broad, flat streets of Lansdown Road.

To secure your spot for the challenge or for more information about the race itself you can visit www.cheltenhamhalf.co.uk


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