ilot who beat cancer takes on new challengte

A PILOT with the RAF will be facing a challenge on the ground in December - to thank those who helped him beat the odds and get back to flying fitness.

Wing Commander Fin Monahan, the Officer Commanding Operations Wing at RAF Leeming, will be tackling the coast to coast walk with colleagues - just three years after his whole world changed with the diagnosis of the blood cancer multiple myeloma.

At the time, the Harrier pilot – who received the Distinguished Flying Cross for his bravery and skill in supporting Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan in 2006 – was at staff college in India.

When recurring back ache didn’t respond to the usual treatments he went to a specialist who came up with a completely unexpected potential diagnosis and within days he was back in the UK at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Surrey.

When he was diagnosed, Fin decided to face it the only way he knew how – as a military operation.

“I determined to take control of my situation and treat it like any other military operation I have been involved in," he said.

"I went down to the shop, bought a big pad of Post-it notes, and began doing some quite detailed campaign planning; assessing the enemy, determining the courses of action and building a campaign plan. This made it easier for me to deal with the news that I had an 'incurable' cancer.”

But thanks to the latest treatment technologies, and the devoted care of the Royal Marsden team, the father-of-three is now in full remission, and returned to Hawk flying in 2011, something he was told he would never do again.

The 84 mile walk will take place over the course of four days from December 1. He and his colleagues hope to raise at least £7,500, to be divided between the Willow Foundation, Myeloma UK and The Royal Marsden Cancer Charity. Donations can be made via http://uk.virginmoneygiving.com/team/wallwalkers5.

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