Supercars driver opens up on ‘draining’ cancer battle
Emerging Supercars driver Thomas Randle has revealed how he went from Bathurst 1000 fit to "not being able to get off the couch" as he opened up on his year-long battle with testicular cancer after learning he's in remission.
The defending Super2 champion - the feeder series for Supercars - said he felt "very lucky" and relieved he had been given the all-clear by doctors to return to racing in 2021 following major abdominal surgery and two cycles of chemotherapy at the end of last year.
Randle will make a return to racing in the S5000 series opener at Symmons Plains in Tasmania this weekend, less than a month after his last round of chemotherapy ended on New Year's Day.
The 24-year-old, who will co-drive for Tickford Racing in the Bathurst 1000 this year, was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January last year after initially thinking he had hurt himself with his seatbelt harness before tests revealed a testicular tumour.
After surgery to remove the tumour, Randle returned to race the full 2020 Super2 season, winning the title, and partnered Nick Percat at the Bathurst 1000 last year.
But Randle had to undergo more surgery after Bathurst - a seven-hour operation to remove lymph nodes in his abdomen, followed by chemotherapy just weeks later.
"It was a seven-hour operation to remove the lymph nodes in my abdomen … with testicular cancer that's the first place that it spreads after its origin," Randle said.
"I was in the ICU for three nights … then the chemo I had was to make sure it (the cancer) couldn't come back.
"It was very draining. I went from Bathurst 1000 fitness levels to not even being able to get off the couch.
"I had just had major surgery and then three weeks later I was getting chemo.
"I was trying to recover from the operation, but I was also getting hit with the chemo."
Randle underwent about 50 hours of chemotherapy - five days on and two days off for each cycle for five hours a day.
He lost his hair and required anti-nausea medication to help with the side-effects.
"In hindsight, each day was pretty tough," Randle said.
"It took just over a week after each cycle to feel normal again.
"But it could have been a lot worse than what I was.
"I'm just lucky that I'm 24-years-old with no other underlying conditions … and I'm fit. That's the best way you want to go into having an operation or having treatment.
"There were a lot of side effects, but I feel much more like myself now and I'm back into training as of about a week ago."
After getting his blood test results back last week to confirm he was in the clear, Randle hoped he had put the health battle behind him.
"It's certainly a relief. Also I feel very lucky too, it could have been a lot worse," he said.
"There are a lot of people out there that are still suffering with this terrible disease so to be on the other side of it, I feel very lucky indeed.
"They basically said that after the chemo the chance of recurrence is 1-1.5 per cent so to me that is the best odds you could get really.
"They will just monitor me on a much less frequent basis now."
Randle is excited to return to racing this weekend and said the experience had made him even more determined to chase his dreams.
"It could go terribly, but there's only way to find out. I'm feeling fit and all the doctors have said they have got no issues with it, so we will see how we go," Randle said.
"That's the big thing that I take away from it. It made me understand that racing cars is what I really love to do.
"That's to get back behind the wheel of one and make sure this is not going to stop me - and it's not."
Randle missed out on a full-time Supercars drive in 2021, but is committed to breaking onto the grid next year.
Originally published as Supercars driver opens up on 'draining' cancer battle