How a fitness professional living with a brain tumour is uniting our community

Monday 19 March 2018

As part of March's Brain Tumour Awareness Month, fitness studio Psycle London is hosting classes for those affected by a diagnosis. They will be led by spin instructor Rod Buchanan who was diagnosed in 2010

Rod said: “I hope these classes will make everyone who attends feel that they are not alone and there is hope. If we spread awareness this awful illness can be diagnosed sooner."

Originally from Glasgow, he was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumour the size of a baby's fist, in 2010, after suffering from symptoms for over 18 months. The news devastated the healthy, professionally–trained dancer.

The moment of being told at St Thomas' hospital remains vivid in Rod's memory: “The day of my scan arrived. After the picture was taken, the nurse said she wanted to run a line of dye in my arm to highlight a clearer image. At this point, I could tell something wasn't right.

“After the second image was taken, the smiley but clearly concerned nurse came back in and advised me to wait for the doctor. I'll always remember his words: 'Mr Buchanan, we have found an obstruction on your brain.'"

For Rod, although shocking, the news brought a sense of reality and purpose to his own suspicions. He had endured worsening headaches, dizzy spells and pain for 18 months prior to reaching this point.
“Deep down, I had always known something was seriously wrong with me but when your friends and even the medical professionals doubt you, you begin to doubt yourself. I turned to the doctor and said 'Ok, what's next? Let's deal with this.' Survival instinct kicked in immediately.

Rod was scheduled for emergency surgery the next day at Kings College Hospital and his anxious parents flew down from their home in Blantyre Scotland to be by his bedside.

Rod had four surgeries; the first emergency surgery to relieve the build-up of pressure on his brain, in the second he had an external drain fitted, the third operation was the removal of the tumour and the final surgery was to fit a shunt (internal drain).

“After each surgery I was violently sick from the anaesthetic but the fight continued, I was one step closer to beating this, that's all I could think about."

“Once I was cleared to go home, I spent the next six weeks at home recovering. Building the muscle in my legs was the hardest part, I pushed myself hard, sometimes too hard, taking long walks then not sleeping from the pain in my legs.

“My head healed nicely but what I wasn't prepared for was the post-traumatic stress of it all. I was paranoid about everything. I felt nervous even just walking, scared I'd fall and bang my head. If I felt a little under the weather, I automatically thought I was dying."

Rod slowly managed his recovery his determination led him to become “Head of Barre" and a RIDE instructor at Psycle London

“People often ask does the experience change your life? Easy answer; yes.

“It made me come to understand what a fighter I am and what I'm capable of. I no longer sweat the small stuff because in the back of my mind there is a little voice telling me that I've been through a lot worse."

On the 28th of March he will lead two classes attended by others affected by brain tumours, including our Young Ambassador Jordan Toms, who is also living with a brain tumour and who, along with his two brothers, has set up his own fitness brand, Resolute. Rod will lead both classes.

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