USW graduate who battled tumour puts his breast foot forward

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A graduate of the University of South Wales who overcame a breast cancer scare is training for the Newport Half Marathon next month.

Ollie Banks, 23, who graduated last summer in BEng (Hons) Aeronautical Engineering, was diagnosed with a breast tumour in 2018 – becoming one of just eight men per year who receive the devastating news.

The former RAF reservist, who hopes to sign up later this year, is preparing for his fourth half marathon, this time in aid of breast cancer awareness charity CoppaFeel.

Ollie Banks CoopaFeel UKAs part of his charity effort, Ollie will be difficult to miss as he negotiates the 13.2-mile race in an eye-catching costume.

“My costume is a giant boob,” he said.

“CoppaFeel provided me with it to run in, and I’m going to dye my hair and moustache pink to make sure I stand out even more!”

Ollie is currently working at USW Students’ Union as Activities Officer, overseeing all of the teams, clubs and societies as well as organising fundraising opportunities.

During his treatment, Ollie would drive to his home county of Cornwall for treatment, before travelling back to Treforest to continue his studies.

The medication helped reduce the size of his tumour, but Ollie needed surgery to remove it entirely. Thankfully, he received the all-clear in January 2019.

“It wasn’t until I read the aftercare leaflets in hospital that I’d even heard of CoppaFeel,” he said.

“I was the only guy going through treatment at the time, and was the youngest person there, so their work to raise awareness of breast cancer among young people – especially students – was something that I knew I had to support.”

The Half Marathon – which will start from outside USW’s Newport Campus on Sunday 1 March – will be the second time Ollie has tackled the Gwent course, having previously run in 2017 for the RAF Benevolent Fund, which supports serving and former RAF personnel and their families.

“My parents both served in the Army, and I’m preparing to sign up with the RAF once my Activities Officer role at USW comes to an end this summer,” he said.

“I would love to become a rehabilitation instructor, helping the wounded to learn to walk and live active lives again.”

Ollie is hoping to complete the Half Marathon in under two hours, and would like to raise at least £150 for Coppafeel. To donate to his JustGiving page, go to: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/nnaob.