In this podcast episode, Robbie and Lymphoma Action volunteer Mike Taylor both reflect on their experiences with lymphoma, before discussing the impact of Robbie’s diagnosis on his career at the time, his recovery post-treatment and his experience of taking part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
Robbie received his diagnosis in 2014 as a 20-year-old playing rugby for Ayr. “To be diagnosed with cancer at such a young age was a massive shock, and I didn’t know what impact it would have on my career and if I would ever play rugby again” says Robbie, now 28. “I was completely unaware as to what lymphoma was, and found it difficult to talk to people about my condition as I really didn’t understand much about it. All I knew was that it was a type of blood cancer, which is a scary thing to say to people. But the one thing I wish I had done more of was to find out more about it. I recently had a look at the Lymphoma Action website, and found it reassuring to see the support available for others in the same situation. I know now there is no stigma attached to talking about it.”
Robbie received six rounds of chemotherapy during the course of his treatment. “The side effects were tough, particularly the sickness, but I tried to focus my mind on goal setting, to keep myself going physically and mentally” he says. “Even the little things, like going for a jog by myself, really helped to boost my confidence. I think it’s important to try and stay active during treatment – even if it is just getting out for a walk. For me, it went a long way in helping me through my recovery.”
“As the months went by after my treatment finished, I started to feel stronger, and in a place where as an athlete I could kick on and do better” he continues. “I started training again in 2015, and was back on the pitch shortly after. I think that’s where my family got the most comfort – seeing me back where they felt I belonged.”
Robbie was then approached by the Glasgow Warriors Academy, where he joined during the 2015-16 season. From there, he went on to join the Scotland Sevens programme, and in August returned from the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. “It was a great experience for me, and a big journey over the past few months” he says. “It was a massive honour to represent the UK as part of Team GB. I still feel a little sore about the rugby sevens team finishing fourth, but from my experience sometimes things go your way, and sometimes they don’t. But as long as you have your health, family and friends you are in a good enough spot.”
Listen to Lymphoma Action’s Lymphoma Voices podcast series here or download episodes from Apple Podcasts or Spotify.