Father and son stood next to each other

After a couple of health scares, 56-year-old Chris Smith decided that his life had to change.

In 2010 Chris was diagnosed with Sleep Apnea. "It all started about ten years ago, my wife made me go to the doctors because I kept stopping breathing when I was asleep. They explained to me that actually everyone has some form of sleep apnea, but you don't notice it until it becomes treatable. They gave me a Continuous Positive Airway Pressure (CPAP) therapy machine.”

In addition, in 2015 Chris started with a persistent cough. “You always worry what it might be, and I left it a while before going to my GP."

Following various tests and scans, Chris was diagnosed with Sarcoidosis of the Lung (Sarcoidosis is a rare condition that causes small patches of red and swollen tissue, called granulomas, to develop in the organs of the body. It usually affects the lungs and skin. There is currently no cure, but symptoms can usually be managed with medicine).

He was started on high dose steroids, and his weight went up. “I struggled, and my weight kept going up and I hated wearing my mask (the CPAP machine)."

"I was 17 stone at my heaviest and I hated myself."

A friend in the village where he lived asked him to go on a cycle ride with him and that’s where his love of cycling started. “It was tough at first but being out in the fresh air and travelling around close to where I live, I started to enjoy it. I looked forward to every week, getting on the bike and riding off to somewhere different” Over time Chris started to increase the number of miles he cycled and realised he was getting quicker. On top of his fitness, he also started to feel better in himself “being out in the fresh air, riding around the local countryside my mental health started to improve, I got less stressed about things particularly my machine."

Man stood by his bicycle

Over a couple of years through his cycling and walking with his dog Olly, Chris lost 2 ½ stone. “It made such a difference to my life, I felt better in myself and found I wasn’t struggling for breath”

His health improved, the Sarcoidosis went into remission and his steroids were reduced to a minimum.

In 2019 Chris’s weight plateaued, so he joined the local Slimming Club with his wife. In January 2022, Chris finally reached his target weight of losing four stone in total, but more importantly to him the breathing equipment that he used every night has now been handed back after being told he is now in the normal range for Sleep Apnea.

Man cheering

“With determination we can achieve anything we set our mind to. I was your typical bloke in his 50’s who liked a beer and the odd walk, but getting out in the fresh air, cycling and walking has not only made me fitter, but changed my life."