Young farmer giving something back after treatment

Young farmer giving something back after treatment

LITTLE under a year ago Andrew Gill received a shock cancer diagnosis.

Life for the busy Saintfield farmer and plasterer was brought to a standstill after being diagnosed with acute myeloid
leukaemia at the age of 23. 

Well known in local farming circles, the champion ploughman had to undergo chemotherapy, and while confined to bed last summer inspired a major fundraiser by Moneyrea Young Farmers Club (YFC). Its success meant over £20,000 was raised for the Friends of the Cancer Centre.

It is the Friends of the Cancer Centre volunteers and his many farming friends who visited him that Andrew credits with helping hospital life feel a little more bearable.

Now with his cancer in remission, he wants to give back again to the people who helped him and is raising funds again at this year’s Moneyrea Young Farmers Club Tractor Run, which will take place on August 17.

“I finished the chemotherapy at Christmas time,” said Andrew. “It was slow the first few months but I have been back in the gym and getting my confidence back. Some days I feel not too bad and others the tiredness is a big thing to try to get over.

“I am still going back for tests. I am in remission and I am pleased with that. At first you have to keep a close eye in case of a relapse.

“Lately I have been coming on leaps and bounds.”

Recalling how he first went to the doctor feeling very tired, Andrew said he expected to be sent home with a vitamin pill. Instead a blood test revealed the seriousness of his condition.

Alongside his chemotherapy treatment, he was forced to take it easy. And it didn’t come naturally.

“I was never a man for TV,” he said. “I did get to enjoy watching the darts. But it was all the people visiting me who really helped.”

During recovery Andrew also enjoyed a sailing trip with the Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust in Glasgow.

“Everybody there knows exactly what you have been been through and it was so easy to talk to them,” he said.

Looking forward to this month’s tractor run, Andrew said he was “lucky to see it” last year.

“Last time they let me leave the hospital about 4pm to see it,” he said. “I was back that night, they just about let me out.

“It was unreal, there were over 300 tractors and 45 lorries taking part.”

This year the funds raised are being split between the Friends of the Cancer Centre and Moneyrea YFC.

“Both were a great support to me,” said Andrew. “I was completely overwhelmed by the support from everyone from day one.”

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The Moneyrea YFC tractor run on August 17 will be meeting at Hillmount Garden Centre at 56 Upper Braniel Road, Belfast from 6.30pm and leaving at 7.30pm. No pre-registration is required and the £10 entrance fee includes food.