TWO inspirational people who have battled serious medical conditions had the honour of representing Fenland in the Olympic Torch relay.
Robyn Joly (70), of March, has battled mouth cancer for the past 18 years and is now considered to be terminal. But she does not let this stop her and continues to fight, inspiring others with her positive attitude.
Matthew Dawson (17), of Wisbech, was born with complicated medical conditions which saw him spend much of his early life in hospital. He had his legs amputated as a toddler and endured several operations. He is now a successful sportsman and does not let his disability slow him down.
Both Robyn and Matt have carried the Olympic flame in the last week – Robyn on Wednesday in Peterborough and Matt on Sunday in Huntingdon – and are proof that attitude is everything.
Craig Joly, Robyn’s husband, is full of admiration for his wife after watching her battle cancer for years.
He said: “She just keeps a positive attitude. You would never know she had a problem.”
Robyn has endured countless operations over the years and since November has been unable to eat. Instead she receives nourishment through a tube in her stomach.
She beat breast cancer five years ago but suffers ongoing problems from all the cancer treatment she has received. She broke her hip four months ago and just three weeks ago broke her shoulder as her bones are brittle from numerous sessions of chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
“Because we knew she wouldn’t be able to wave when carrying the torch, she practised the Usain Bolt lightening pose at home,” Craig said. “She wasn’t going to let it stop her.”
Matt was nominated by his paediatrician from Great Ormond Street Hospital. Matt had heart defects when he was born, in addition to a critically narrow windpipe and bilateral leg deformities. By the age of two, he had gone through two heart operations, three operations on his airway and the procedure to amputate his legs.
Matt now doesn’t remember anything about his operations and has grown up accepting his artificial legs as the norm for him. He enjoys playing sport and plays for Wisbech Town Cricket Club.
He said: “I’ve been able to do everything my friends do. I just have to work a bit harder.”
Matt had no idea he had been nominated as a torchbearer and was completely shocked to receive his letter through the post.
“I never honestly expected to make it through and actually become a torchbearer. It’s been a really surreal experience.”