Pinoy cancer survivor carries Olympic torch in Willenhall

By Ed Lao, ABS-CBN News Europe Bureau

Posted at Jul 02 2012 04:39 PM | Updated as of Jul 03 2012 04:37 AM

WILLENHALL, West Midlands, UK – On Day 43 of the 2012 Olympic Torch relay, the iconic flame reached the town of Willenhall in the West Midlands, where crowds lined the streets to witness history in the making and cheer on the torchbearers.

Among the 8,000 participants in the torch relay is Parañaque City native Rodolfo Sebastian Carlos, a survivor of thyroid cancer.

The 38-year-old, who  works for the International Hotels Group (IHG), one of the sponsors of the London Games, carried the torch for around 300 meters.

“It’s quite a feeling, very exciting. It’s nothing I could describe with words. It was very pumped up, energetic,” Carlos said. “I’m happy to be here, everyone is so welcoming.”

“My hands already got tired of waving outside, but I felt like it was my duty to keep kids happy,” he added.

Carlos bested 73 other nominated IHG employees worldwide for his inspirational story of perseverance and spirit.

He spent the last three years battling cancer, which led to rapid weight gain due to his medication as well as weakened joints.

To rebuild his physical and mental strength, Carlos returned to Filipino martial arts before going into Olympic weightlifting.

“I used to teach Filipino martial arts back then, so I had to get back to it. And that’s what I did – I started practicing stick-fighting, blade-fighting and it’s a little more gentle on the joints,” Carlos explained.

“Then eventually, after getting to a certain level of health, I challenged myself and I found an Olympic weight-lifting gym, where they have trained some Olympians, so I just joined,” he added.

Carlos’ cancer was detected at Stage 1, and he feels lucky it did not have time to develop into something more serious.

“My public message is just take care of your bodies, go to your doctors periodically and have your check-ups,” he said. “Make sure you make your precautionary measures done if you feel anything weird happening.”

Two more Filipinos are due to take part in the Olympic torch relay before it concludes at the Olympic Stadium in London on July 27.