Hill walker who was told he almost died in his sleep completes second round of Munros

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A SCOTS hill walker who was told he could have “choked to death” in his sleep from a huge mass in his throat has managed to complete his second round of Munros.

Cam Johnston captured images atop his final Munro, Slioch, earlier this month – finishing on the exact same hill that he completed his first round on 25 years ago. 

In 2017, the 53-year-old, from Dundee, began suffering from shortness of breath which he thought may have been asthma.

Cam Johnston celebrates completing his first Munro round | Scottish Hill Walking News
Cam celebrated completing his first Munro round atop Slioch in 1996.                                                     (C) Cam Johnston

Cam’s condition continued to worsen before he finally went to see his GP who told him his windpipe had been compressed from 25mm to 6mm from his thyroid.

The engineer was told he could have died and went in for emergency surgery where 1,100 grams of mass was removed from inside his neck.

Cam had already completed all 282 Munros and had also began trying to tick them off for a second time before he fell ill.

Not deterred by his surgery, he continued on his expedition to knock off the remaining 96 just ten weeks after his life saving operation.

Cam has now shared inspiring images showing him and his friends on top of Slioch back in 1996 and again on the same mountain earlier this month.

Speaking today, Cam said: “It was very emotional to be back on the same summit almost 25 years later completing the Munros again – and even more so considering what I’d been through in 2017. 

Cam Johnston recovers from surgery | Scottish Hill Walking News
Cam was back hill walking just 10 weeks after his surgery.                                                                     (C) Cam Johnston

“The biggest shock was finding out how large my thyroid had become due to the enlargement.

“A normal thyroid weighs 25 grams. They removed 1100 grams of mass from inside my neck.

“I was in ICU for a couple of days as a precaution as there was a risk that my trachea would collapse following the op. 

“I was very tired the first few weeks as my body adjusted to having no thyroid.

“I was back at my doctors for blood tests every few weeks to allow them to fine tune my thyroxine.

“I got myself walking after a month and was back to work after seven weeks. 

“Ten weeks later I was back on the summit of Carn na Caim, a munro just off the A9 near Drummochter. I have never looked back.

“I’m truly thankful to all at the NHS who cared for me.

“My denial that something was wrong was the most stupid thing I have ever done in my life. 

“Thankfully I’m here to tell the tale and to enjoy life once again.”

Cam took to Facebook on Saturday to encourage others to not hesitate before speaking to their doctor, writing: “I was effectively breathing through a ‘straw’. 

Cam Johnston celebrates his second Munro round | Scottish Hill Walking News
Cam celebrated his second Munro round atop the very same mountain as his first 25 years later.              (C) Cam Johnston

“He said we need to operate soon. He also added how have you managed to keep going this long, you’re in a serious situation. Denial I thought to myself… and stupidity.

“I ended up having seven hours of surgery and a wee stint in the ICU. The surgery was thankfully successful. 

“Before I was discharged the consultant told me that I was lucky they had caught me just in time. 

“I asked in time for what? He replied, you could have gone to bed any night and just not woke up. You would have choked to death in your sleep. 

“My denial and the reality of my stupidity ran right through me. Thankfully too the growth in my Thyroid was benign.

“If something does not seem right – please go and speak to your doctor. Denial can be a killer. 

“I got lucky in the end and will always be thankful to the NHS and the team at Ninewells Hospital in Dundee who looked after me so well and got me back on the road. 

“Be inspired and make the most of every day – none of us know what is round the corner. Enjoy every day like it’s your last. Be positive and try to encourage others to be the same.” 

The post has now collected over 400 likes with hundreds of comments from users who were inspired by Cam’s story.

One user said: “Huge well done. Brought happy tears to my eyes!”

Whilst another wrote: “Congratulations…twice! What a heartfelt and inspiring story, thanks for sharing.”

One member commented: “Well done Cam, what an inspiration having gone through that.”

Another replied: “An amazing story and an inspiration to others. Never take life for granted. Congratulations.”