Postman fights thyroid cancer by taking up boxing

Kevin McBrierty, 29, in the Holyrood Gym, where he trains. Picture: Wullie Marr
Kevin McBrierty, 29, in the Holyrood Gym, where he trains. Picture: Wullie Marr
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A POSTMAN with thyroid cancer has turned to boxing to help him fight the disease.

Kevin McBrierty, from Musselburgh, has returned to the gym just days after undergoing radiation treatment.

Kevin in hospital after his thyroid was removed. Picture: Contributed

Kevin in hospital after his thyroid was removed. Picture: Contributed

The 29-year-old had to stay in isolation for two weeks as radioactive medicine pulsed through his body, killing the cancer cells.

But the determined father-of-three, who always wanted to learn to box, continued his training in his tiny spare room.

Kevin is now preparing for his first-ever match next month – an exhibition event to raise money for charity.

It was in December last year when his wife convinced him to go to the hospital after hurting his neck in the gym.

I couldn’t go to the gym. The radiation would come out in my sweat

Kevin McBrierty

It turned out swelling was not down to injury but tumours inside his thyroid, which produces hormones to regulate metabolic rate and functions like muscle control.

The decision was taken to operate and totally remove the gland. “When it was removed it was twice the size of an average thyroid,” he said. “The doctor said it was bloody huge.”

Everything went to plan with the operation but Kevin felt himself struggling to adjust to living on hormone replacement tablets.

He said: “I was low, I’d put on weight, I was also in a depression. I thought this couldn’t go on.

“I had to take my mind off it. I was really quite grumpy at home – I had to do something.”

He got in touch with Bradley Welsh from the Holyrood Boxing Gym, who introduced him to the sport and set him a target – a bout next month.

“It has taken my mind of the fact I’m 29 years old and I had cancer and potentially still do,” he said. “It is a great way of taking you mind off it and keeping yourself fit.

“I thought it was over but it wasn’t. The doctor phoned me and said I would need radiation treatment to kill off any cancer left in my body.

“The cancer may have spread to my blood. The biopsy of the thyroid showed a large number of tumours – not good news.”

His radiation treatment started on July 6 but Kevin was determined to still take part in his boxing match.

“I had to be in isolation for three days at the hospital and two weeks at home,” he said.

“I was in the spare room in the house, just a six by eight-foot room for two weeks.

“There were two weeks when I couldn’t go to the gym. The radiation would come out in my sweat, which is dangerous.

“It was horrible, I couldn’t spend time with my daughter even though she was just in the other room. I was training in the house doing squats and light weights.”

Just days after his treatment finished he was back with his coach in the gym.

He said: “It was brilliant to get back into the gym. I’m still waiting on the results but the hospital are very optimistic.

“It’s been a horrible thing to go through but you have to look forward. That chapter of my life is done now.”

Asked it he would recommend boxing to others in his position, he said: “As long as their coach and doctors say it is OK, I would say go for it. ”

Mr Welsh, said: “Kevin contacted me saying ‘I want to box’. He’d always wanted to box. I said I’d make it happen.”

Kevin will be boxing on August 8 at Portobello Town Hall, raising money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.