Former Cardiff Uni Judoka diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer

His friends have already raised £6000


In 2014 Jamie MacDonald competed in the Judo for Wales at the commonwealth games.

Jamie has now been diagnosed with a brain tumour.

The Tab spoke to Jamie’s younger brother Luke and his Cardiff friend Alex Chesterton-Matt. The two friends and their housemates have started a fundraising campaign that features swimming the length of the English Channel and cycling the equivalent distance of John O’Groats to Land’s End.

The aim of the campaign is to provide Jamie with the resources necessary to fulfil his bucket list – they’ve already bought him a pug.

Luke said: “He has been having headaches for a while, but he just put it down to bad eye sight. He got his eyes checked and they were a bit off so he’s had glasses and he does computer programming anyway so he’s always in front of a computer screen.

“Then he was training one day and after he left the gym he had like pins and needles down half of his face. Literally directly half of his face in pins and needles.

“He rang my mum and my mum was like “ring 111 and get it checked out.” He didn’t go at first, he went to the shop to get some food and he just kept dropping things as he was picking them up.

Luke with Jamie's new pet, Simba

Luke with Jamie’s new pet, Simba

“He went back and there was still a bit of pins and needles and it had spread down a whole half of his body.

“Then he rang me later and said that after an MRI they said he had a brain tumour. So then we went to Exeter, he told my mum and Dad the next day. And then, he had another MRI and they confirmed it. How long after was it? It’s all a bit of a blur to me.

“Two weeks after it was, he had an operation to take bits off it to test, and he found out it was cancer and he had 3-5 years to live and now it’s just treatment.

Alex before embarking on one of his swimming sessions.

Alex before embarking on one of his swimming sessions.

“It’s currently type 3, then it’s type 4 which is the top where it’s growing at a rapid pace. Apparently he’s had it for about 3 years judging by the size.

“It’s right at the top of his spine at the bottom of his brain so they can’t get to it. And that’s why he had the pins and needles because it is blocking the spinal fluid.”

“He’s starting radiotherapy with chemo 5 days a week for six weeks, and then he’s got 6 weeks just chemo. It’s to stop it growing, stem it’s growth.

“It’s been really tough. I’m trying to keep busy and the fundraising has really helped by giving me something to focus on. Obviously it’s something you never want to happen.

Alex said: “First of all we wanted to send him to Australia. We thought we would make £2k and now that’s gone. We were on £4,334 after about 5 days. He wants to go and train in the Kodokan Dojo in Japan. It’s the best place in the world for Judo.

Luke and Jamie looking exceptionally dapper

Luke and Jamie looking exceptionally dapper

Jamie also has other aspirations, including a visit to Finland where he wants to see the Northern Lights.

Luke adds: “He wants to see a blue whale, but I don’t understand how we’re really going to do that one. It’s going to be a hard one.

“And someone from Finland emailed him directly saying that they will sort his accommodation and flights and everything, all he has to do is get to the airport. And it’s all like Igloo hotels with a glass roof.

“As well, Jamie is going to the head neurologist in Britain at the Royal Marsden. His son does Judo and he knows my brother’s old coach, so they have somehow got in touch.

“He rung my brother and said “come up we’ll have a meeting.” So Jamie will find out what could help and we’re going to raise as much money for that treatment as we can and be like here we go, there’s all our money, develop that further.

Following the advice of his father, Jamie started to keep a record of his daily activities after his diagnosis.

Luke said: “His blog has had 60,000 views now. It’s mad. It jumped a lot from the crow funder as well – going from 20 to 40 in a day.

It would appear that Jamie's jumper game is a strong as his cheekbones.

It would appear that Jamie’s jumper game is a strong as his cheekbones.

“Basically he takes the piss out of it, out of the situation. He jokes around about it, as if it’s not even an issue.

“There was a line I read it was like – I’ve got a bit of a headache it’s as if someone drilled into my skull yesterday. And someone actually had. Someone had drilled into his skull.

“When we went to Exeter to clear his flat out, he went to visit the hospital to drop off chocolates to the nurses that treated him.

“He was going round speaking to the nurses and they said they had read the blog to their colleagues. So he got taken on a tour around the whole hospital meeting the other nurses and they said they’ve been reading his blog and it made them all cry. He was famous in the hospital.”

Alex notes: “It’s nice to know that when things really matter in the world everyone is not a dick.”

Luke continued: “It has totally restored my faith in humanity.”

Jamie’s fund raising page can be found here.

Jamie’s blog can be found here.