Stockport resident Phil Wilson, age 65, was left paralysed down the left side of his body following a stroke and, during his recovery, was then given the devastating news that he had a spinal tumour.
But his valiant efforts to reclaim his independence and his mobility, through the support of his family and local community, has led him to be selected to feature in the national campaign, “We Are Undefeatable”, launching on August 15.
“We Are Undefeatable” is a movement supporting people with a range of long term health conditions, developed by 16 leading health and social care charities. Their purpose is to support and encourage ways to be active that work with each person’s conditions, not against them.
Phil, a Royal Navy veteran, had been active his whole life right up until his stroke in 2016 that left him paralysed down the left side of his body. Phil was referred to Life Leisure on the PARiS programme and received support from the Stockport NHS outreach team.
Hospital physio followed by a transfer to Romiley Gym allowed him to improve his mobility and he was making great progress. With the encouragement and support of his children and grandchildren, Phil was finding ways to adapt after his stroke, like gaffer taping his foot to the exercise bike until he was able to get on the bike unaided and was covering 5km each session.
To his disbelief, Phil was then diagnosed with stage 4 advanced prostate cancer, and spinal tumours which compressed his spinal cord and once more took away his ability to walk. Giving him another hurdle to overcome. He refused to give up and looked to the gym to rebuild his physical and emotional wellbeing.
Phil Wilson said: “During my recovery, the joke became who would learn to walk and talk first, me or my granddaughter, Olivia! I truly believe the gym gave me my life back, and light exercise was the route to restore my mobility and feel normal again after my stroke. I told myself if I could get active and recover once, I could do it again!”
With support and light exercises Phil is improving his mobility yet again. On the days when he doesn’t feel quite up to the gym, Phil does small exercises like marching in place, which he learnt from his time serving in the Navy, and religiously exercises using a can of mushroom soup as a weight to improve mobility in the his left arm.
Michelle Childs, Head of Health Development at Life Leisure, said: “We are delighted to have been able to support Phil on his remarkable road to recovery. Phil’s determination and persistence has become an exemplar of how activity can help you manage a long-term condition and as he says, ‘feel normal again’.
“The PARiS scheme, which runs in partnership with GPs and the NHS, is all about helping people manage long term health conditions through exercise. We are looking forward to seeing Phil make even more progress and inspire more people to start moving more.”