An Inverness man who has defied the odds and outlived his deadly cancer prognosis by more than five years has completed a gruelling endurance challenge.
Nigel Shaddick was diagnosed with mesothelioma in 2017.
Medical experts anticipated he only had 12 months left to live.
But Mr Shaddick was not deterred by his diagnosis and instead continued to compete in tough events such as the Loch Ness Etape.
Now, five years on, he has completed a gruelling night triathlon in the heart of the Cairngorms.
What is mesothelioma?
Mesothelioma is a form of cancer that develops in the lining that covers the outer surface of some of the body’s organs.
It is believed to occur due to an exposure to asbestos and affects 2,600 people in the UK each year.
Symptoms do not tend to show until some time after exposure and gradually develop over time.
In the lungs, they include:
- chest pain
- shortness of breath
- fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- a high temperature (fever) and sweating, particularly at night
- a persistent cough
- loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss
- clubbed (swollen) fingertips
Symptoms can also be experienced in the stomach including pain or swelling, nausea or sickness, and diarrhoea or constipation.
More men are affected than women.
How has Nigel overcome the deadly cancer?
There is no known cure for mesothelioma with treatments thought to only help control the symptoms.
Mr Shaddick has said that a pioneering treatment at Edinburgh University has been crucial in keeping him fit and well.
The 53-year-old, who is now in remission, said: “Getting onto the trial really did save my life.
“It is not a managed treatment as such. It trains your body to work out what is cancer cells and how to fight them, so once the body is trained that is it.
“As the treatment was going on month by month I was feeling better and able to do more.”
“Getting onto the trial really did save my life.”
He continued: “I still have scans every three months, and my last scan was a remission one.
“The problem with a trial is you never know if it is going to work or not. It is not a given at the start that it is the best option.
“But with mesothelioma – it’s not really a choice to make.
“The original treatment doesn’t really do much anyway and just makes it less angry, but the outcome is still the same.”
Five years on, Nigel is starting to feel like he is getting back to normal.
He said: “I am back at full-time work and just cracking on with things like normal people do.
“Before, I was looking at giving up full-time work and retiring but now it is normal – I just have a scan every three months and just do what everyone else does.
“It makes you appreciate things more and want to make the most of everything.
“It is quite an exhausting way to live mind you.”
Nigel now putting his body fully to the test
Now, Mr Shaddick has completed the gruelling Starman night triathlon.
The event kicked off in the waters of Loch Morlich at midnight where athletes undertook a 1900m swim.
Competitors then exited the water before gearing up for a 90km (56-mile) cycle through the silent Speyside roads.
The challenge concluded with the small matter of a half-marathon over the summits of Cairn Gorm and Meall a’ Bhuachaille just in time for sunrise.
‘I absolutely loved it’
Speaking about his latest challenge, Mr Shaddick said: “Starman was my first triathlon since being gravely ill and I absolutely loved it.
“For me, it was a lovely relaxed event, where everyone gets a medal even if they have to miss a section.
“This is one of the best long-distance triathlons I have ever been to.
“I was not sure if I could complete the full event, but I was really pleased to be able to.”
‘We are so in awe of his achievement’
Caroline MacKechnie, of organisers True Grit Events, said: “We were so delighted to be able to deliver Starman Night Triathlon again and welcome Nigel to our Starman family.
“We did not realise just how ill Nigel had been until he told us after the event.
“We are so in awe of his achievement.
“Starman is one of the most extreme triathlons in the UK and tests even the toughest athletes.
“To come and complete it after having gone through everything Nigel has gone through is just incredible.”