Healthy Hub - Welcome Gym

Follow us on Social     blog

Healthy Hub

<< back to blog
Cheltenham - Member Of The Year

Cheltenham - Member Of The Year

Huge congratulations to Ben Dawson, our Member Of The Year at Welcome Gym Cheltenham. Ben was nominated by his wife, Emilie, who told us all about his inspirational story.

'My husband and I are both members of Welcome Gym in Cheltenham. I would like to nominate him as Member of the Year because I am immensely proud of the journey he had undertaken at your gym in the last 12 months.

Ben was a fit 27 year old, who enjoyed cycling, when he was diagnosed with leukaemia back in 2014. After that, he underwent intensive chemotherapy to fight the leukaemia and a stem-cell transplant to keep it at bay. He has been in remission since then. But that's not why I'm nominating him.

In 2015, Ben worked hard to get his strength back and return to work, and achieved this despite being hit with liver Graft Versus Host Disease and PCP (a form of pneumonia). But that's not why I'm nominating him either.

In 2016, Ben's recovery took another enormous hit when he was diagnosed with acquired haemophilia - another side effect of the transplant. Ben suffered bleeds around his limbs almost constantly for six months and found himself unable to work, in a great deal of pain and often having to rely on a wheelchair. To make things worse, Ben was diagnosed with osteo necrosis in his left knee, a consequence of the high dose steroids he had received to fight off conditions in 2015. Ben underwent hydrotherapy and physiotherapy and managed to get some strength back by Christmas of 2016.

In April 2017, Ben had a procedure performed on his left knee to try and straighten it (it was permanently bent, presumably due to bleeds that happened during the haemophilia stage). The procedure wasn't as successful as he'd hoped and his knee remained bent, although slightly less so.

In April 2017, I dragged Ben along to Welcome Gym, having used it at a guest a few times. I wanted Ben to try and regain some fitness. I wanted him to get out of the house. I wanted something to lift his spirits. The manager, Dave, was really helpful. He showed Ben some of the bikes and came round with us explaining the reclining bikes and the spin bikes.

When Ben sat on one of the exercise bikes, he couldn't push the pedal without a great deal of strain and discomfort in his left knee; he could try it for a few seconds at a time. The effort and energy it took was incredible but, despite his strength, he felt weak.

But Ben persevered. From April 2017, he started going to the gym whenever he could. He started using some different machines. Proudly, he began to be able to cycle again, despite his complicated knee problems. Despite his (misplaced) feelings of inadequacy, Ben kept going. He managed to get back to work, as a teacher, two days a week. We had our first family holiday in four years.

Ben faced a setback when he was diagnosed with broncheacitis in the autumn of last year, as well as suspected lung GVHD, but he didn't let it affect his dedication to visiting the gym a few times a week. In fact, it spurred him on; if he could keep on exercising, then how bad could his lungs really be?!

Ben comes to Welcome Gym a few times a week, as long as he can balance it with his two days at work and his many hospital appointments. He can cycle for 30 minutes at a time now- how far he has come since having to push at a pedal for 10 seconds to make it move.

He even announced, a few weeks ago, that he had been on the treadmill! He puts me to shame. He has done all of that alone by sheer perseverance, mental strength and a formidable determination. I'm sure you will have a whole range of nominations, but when I saw the signs up at the gym last week, I knew I had to nominate Ben. And, also, to thank Welcome Gym on his behalf for being such a welcoming(!), supportive and accessible gym. It has been more to our family than I can say.'

We were humbled to receive so many inspirational stories for our Member Of The Year competition, and are thrilled to be able to reward the hard work, dedication and inspiration of our members like Ben. Well done Ben, congratulations and keep up the great work!

Social Feed