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Boxing helps father with cancer fight the disease

A FATHER of three with thyroid cancer has turned to boxing to help him fight the disease.

Kevin McBrierty from Musselburgh, East Lothian, has returned to the gym just days after undergoing radiation treatment.

The 29-year-old had to stay in isolation for two weeks as radioactive medicine pulsed through his body, killing the cancer cells.

But the determined postman, who always wanted to learn to box, continued his training in his tiny spare room.


Kevin McBrierty returned to the gym just days after undergoing radiation treatment


Kevin is now preparing for his first ever match next month, an exhibition event to raise money for charity which he hopes will sign the end of his battle.

It was in December last year his wife convinced him to go to the hospital after hurting his neck in the gym.

It turned out swelling was not down to injury but tumours inside his thyroid, which produces hormones to regulate metabolic rate and functions like muscle control.

The decision was taken to operate and totally remove the organ.


Kevin in hospital after the operation to remove his thyroid


“When it was removed it was twice the size of an average thyroid,” he explained. “The doctor said it was bloody huge.”

Everything went to plan with the operation but Kevin felt himself struggling to adjust to living on hormone replacement tablets.

“I was low, I’d put on weight, I was also in a depression. I thought this couldn’t go on.

“I had to take my mind off it. I was really quite grumpy at home – I had to do something.”

He got in touch with Bradley Welsh from the Holyrood Boxing Gym who introduced him to sport and set him a target – a match in August.

“It has taken my mind of the fact I’m 29 years old and I had cancer and potentially still do,” he said. “It is a great way of taking you mind off it and keeping yourself fit.”


Kevin and his youngest child Grace who is two years-old



He continued: “I thought it was over but it wasn’t. The doctor phoned me and said I would need radiation treatment to kill off any cancer left in my body.

“The cancer may have spread to my blood, the biopsy of the thyroid showed a large number of tumours. Not good news.”

His radiation treatment started on 6th July but Kevin was determined to still take part in his boxing match.

“I had to be in isolation for three days at the hospital and two weeks at home,” he said.

“I was in the spare room in the house, just a six by eight ft room for two weeks.

“There were two weeks when I couldn’t go to into the gym.The radiation would come out in my sweat, which is dangerous.


Kevin with his wife Rebekah who convinced him to get the swelling around his neck checked out at hospital


“It was horrible, I couldn’t spend time with my daughter even though she was just in the other room.

“I was training in the house. Doing squats and light weights.”

Just days after his treatment finished he was back with his coach in the gym.

He said: “It was brilliant to get back into the gym.

“I’m still waiting on the results but the hospital are very optimistic.

“It’s been a horrible thing to go through but you have look look forward. That chapter of my life is done now.”

Asked it he would recommend boxing others in his position he said: “As long as their coach and doctors say it is OK I would say go for it. My doctors gave me the go ahead.”


Kevin in the gym getting ready for his big match next month


His coach, Bradley Welsh, said: “Kevin contacted me saying ‘I want to box’, He’d always wanted to box. I said I’d make it happen.”

Talking about what Kevin has achieved he said: “I’m in awe of him.”

Kevin will be boxing on Saturday 8th August at Portobello Town Hall raising money for the Butterfly Thyroid Cancer Trust.

You can donate to the charity through Kevin’s Just Giving page:

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