Facing an uncertain future as he battles cancer for the second time, Matthew Hadden has vowed to use his experience to inspire others and to become a better man

WHEN he began to get recurring pain in his shin, Matthew Hadden thought little of it.

In his mid-twenties with an active and athletic lifestyle, the civil servant waited weeks before going to his doctors.

“I thought the pain came from martial arts and running so I put off going to the doctors, taking painkillers and thinking it would sort itself out but it only got worse.

“If you ever get pain that keeps coming back, don’t ignore it, go to the doctor and get it checked out.

“I eventually went, they sent me for an x-ray and the rest is history.”

In February 2015, Mr Hadden was diagnosed with rare bone cancer osteosarcoma and went on to lose his leg – as well as his life as he knew it.

By November, he had finished several rounds of gruelling treatment and looked forward to rebuilding his life and training to become a Paralympian while dedicating himself to supporting charitable causes.

Sadly, Mr Hadden’s Paralympic dreams had to be put on hold when a routine check-up in July found the cancer had returned, and spread to his lungs.

This week, medics will perform open chest surgery to remove several tumours and to help Mr Hadden “give the cancer the kicking it deserves.”

Ahead of the operation, the 27-year-old shared his story in a bid to raise awareness and to encourage others to live more positively and to make the most of their own lives.

The Northern Echo: DETERMINED: Darlington man Matthew Hadden

DETERMINED: Darlington man Matthew Hadden

“I’ve just got to get on with this, it’s not something I can bring emotion into”, he says, speaking of the impact his illness has had.

“Everything was normal, nothing weird, and then they found something in me that could kill me.

“Everything stopped, I couldn’t get out to see friends, I couldn’t go out for meals – after chemo, I looked and felt like death.

“There’s nothing more frustrating than not being able to be the person you consider yourself to be.

“I am annoyingly driven, I was active, motivated and strong in all senses of the word.

“I became a weakling, not being able to do much, I couldn’t even cook or drive myself.

“After treatment, I was getting on with my life and looking at training for the Paralympics, feeling better every day and rebuilding my life as an amputee.”

With an unfailingly positive outlook, Mr Hadden is now doing his utmost to come to terms with the second life-threatening diagnosis.

“It is a difficult diagnosis the second time round but I survived it last time and I’m going to be giving it a kicking.

“I know what’s going to happen and I know it’s going to be a difficult couple of years but I’ll be doing everything within my power to survive this.

“I haven’t been given a time limit and I don’t want people to treat me as though I’m dying.

“This life is not ideal but there are positive things that can be done.”

Mr Hadden is determined to set a positive example and has vowed to use money friends and family have raised for him to help others.

A recent appeal led to more than £9,000 being raised for the popular music fan – a figure he will donate to good causes when he marks ten years free from the cancer that blighted his life but left him determined to live it to the full.

His experiences have brought with them life lessons Mr Hadden is keen to pass onto others.

“Look after yourself and your well-being, mentally and physically – make sure you talk about any issues with the right people.

“Value life because there’s not enough of it – appreciate seeing friends, eating your favourite meal with family, going to the cinema.

“Put your phone down, go out for a walk and appreciate the silly things, go dancing with your friends and engage with your community.

“Remember that everyone has their trials and tribulations and worry is real – we can help and support each other.”

Thanking those who donated to help him, he vowed to use the money to become a better person himself before passing it on to other good causes.

“I want to inspire people to give back when they feel ready to by giving the money to someone else deserving or in need.

“If I am successful in fighting this, in ten years, this money will be returned and I want everyone to hold me to account on that.

“In 2026, there will be a big party, everyone will be invited and my bank balance will cry.

“It’s a way of giving back to the people who helped when you needed it the most to benefit someone else.”