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British Canoeing staff and athletes paddle for Paralympian

Athletes and British Canoeing staff turned out for a mass paddle relay to celebrate Paralympian Stu Wood’s return to training after getting the all-clear from cancer.

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Stu Wood recently returned to training after his cancer went into remission.

Stu Wood, who won bronze at the Tokyo Paralympics, was diagnosed with Stage 3b Hodgkin Lymphoma about a month after the games.

“In the build up to the games I felt quite fatigued and [I was] losing a bit of weight… we put it down to stress,” he said.

“We thought it was all fine, but a couple of weeks after [Tokyo]... I just started getting worse in terms of not recovering in the way I should and dropping more weight. I also noticed a big lump on my neck, one of my lymph nodes was swollen.”

After a visit to a GP following the world championships, Stu had CT scans and biopsies to confirm the diagnosis. He then underwent 12 weeks of chemotherapy.

“It’s one of the cancers we can easily treat, the majority of people who get it return to normal,” he said. “Obviously it’s not certain by any stretch. There’s always the chance it could come back.”

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British Canoeing staff and athletes joined forces to complete 200 x 200m lengths.

The paracanoe programme organised a mass relay on the lake at the National Watersports Centre, to celebrate Stu’s recovery and welcome him back to training.

The intention was to also raise awareness about Hodgkin Lymphoma and money for Lymphoma Action. More than £1000 has been raised so far. 

Paralympian Emma Wiggs MBE said the whole team couldn't be "prouder" of Stu.

"What better way to celebrate an amazing paddler than by paddling! 

"It was important for us to get as many of the British Canoeing staff and athletes involved, to recognise Stu's amazing fightback from winning bronze to battling cancer."

About 50 staff and athletes took to the water, on SUPs, canoes and kayaks, to try and complete 200 x 200m lengths. 

Lane zero was used to travel up the course to the 200m start line with lanes 1-3 available for a qualifying 200m lap.

 A run started every two minutes, on average, and the target was hit in about an hour and 20 minutes.

“It was fantastic to see so many people, especially with the weather being as horrendous as it was,” said Stu.

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Paralympians Laura Sugar and Dave Phillipson both took part in the relay.

“We were a bit worried. But people still came out anyway. So many people supporting me and donating as well.

“I’ve had a massive amount of support from people. The team has been great throughout… 

"My family and girlfriend have been incredibly supportive as well. And various friends, it’s great to see how much they come through when it matters.”

Jonny Young, from the Paracanoe programme, said: "Watching what Stu has gone through over the winter I really wanted us to come together and celebrate his return and essentially have a party on the water, so again a massive thank you to all who very much got stuck into doing just that."

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British Canoeing staff turned out in support of Stu.

About 2,100 people are diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma every year in the UK, more than five a day. 

Lymphoma Action provided Stu and his family with information and support throughout his treatment. Please donate here, if you can. 

"We want to say a huge thank you to the athletes and staff at British Canoeing,” said Sarah Thorn, Community and Partnerships Manager at Lymphoma Action. 

"In the UK, 53 people a day receive a lymphoma diagnosis making it the most common blood cancer. 

"Our vision is to ensure nobody has to face lymphoma alone and with people supporting us like this, we can move closer to achieving that."