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My Name is David Staley and I am a Group Technology Risk Manager within Second Line Risk, based in Radbroke.
Outside of Barclays I have two children aged 11 and 8, who keep me and my wife occupied. I’ve recently taken up responsibility of managing my son’s U12 football team and now in our second year of being season ticket holders at Everton FC. In my spare time I enjoy cycling.
My day to day role involves providing independent, subject matter expert, review and challenge to first line of defence colleagues across technology areas, with regards to reporting Risk Events, and completing RCSAs (Risk & Control Self-Assessments).
In Oct 2015, I was diagnosed with mesothelioma, an incurable cancer related to asbestos. My symptoms started in 2014 and were similar to flu, with back pain and fatigue. Having never worked with asbestos, I’m not the normal mesothelioma patient, especially at such a young age (it’s common in over 70s). After two biopsies and symptoms for 18 months I was diagnosed in October 2015, three weeks before my 40th birthday. Married with two young children, our lives were turned upside down – a terminal diagnosis and given less than 12 months to live – it was a bombshell.
I have no idea where I was exposed to asbestos. It could have been when employed as a meter reader, a temporary job whilst at university, from DIY, or even when at school. However, I wasn’t going to dwell on that, and put all my energy and focus on doing what was needed to give me more time with my wife and kids.
Therefore, we took the decision to have radical surgery and my left lung was removed three weeks following diagnosis. It came with a one-in-five chance of death, but rewards of a longer life.This was followed by four gruelling sessions of chemotherapy which were completed in April 2016. The support from the surgeon, medical staff, doctors, and nurses was exceptional. Without them I wouldn’t be telling the story today.
I wanted a challenge so in July 2017, after seven months of training, I was well enough to complete a gruelling 100-mile cycling challenge, raising over £14,000 for British Lung Foundation and Mesothelioma UK. 18 months before I did it I could hardly walk and needed a walking frame in hospital. Through the cycle challenge I wanted to show others that no matter your state of health, with the correct training, support and belief, anything is possible.
I’m now 42, it’s been two and a half years since diagnosis and I am one of the lucky ones and currently on no medication. The symptoms are breathlessness/tiredness which results from only having one lung. The toughest part is coping mentally with a terminal illness that will return one day, and dealing with the three monthly scans to check whether it has returned. However, the support from everyone and especially my wife, kids, family and friends has got me where I am today.
The support I have received from work has been exceptional. I returned to work gradually in September 2016. However, even while I was off my colleagues and line manager would keep in touch, ensuring I had all the support I needed. Before I returned to work, a 12-week plan was put in place in agreement with Occupational Health and my line manager. This helped me build up my stamina gradually, rather than rushing straight back, and therefore minimising the risk of a set-back.
Having one lung means I need to be very careful not to get infections, as the consequences could be fatal. Therefore, I need to take extra caution, avoid being around crowds, and air-con offices. To reduce the risk I work from home 2-3 days a week, and Barclays provided all of the equipment. When I’m in the office, I apply regular hand gel and I have my own desk to avoid spread of infections. Also now we are in a room with nine desks, if any colleagues are ill with colds etc, they will give me advance warning, and I can then make an informed decision.
From day one, I have been open with people and have written my own blog * with the aim that if I can help one person in a similar situation I would be happy. I wanted to show others that even though it’s not easy at times, you can lead a good life with cancer. So if I only have 1, 5, 10 years to live, I plan to enjoy whatever time I have left.
I would encourage everyone who is going through any illness to at least share with one colleague or a line manager, as there is so much help out there. You don’t realise how much, until you ask for it.
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