‘As they say knowledge is power’

Richard Clark from Penwortham with sons Sidney, three and Oscar, five

Richard Clark from Penwortham with sons Sidney, three and Oscar, five

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Dad-of-two Ric Clark, 33, from Penwortham, told the Evening Post how he discovered he was battling cancer while training for a triathlon. In this column, he tells us about learning how to eat after his stomach was removed

Late last week I went back to the hospital and visited the Critical Care Unit and Ward 11, as well as Rosemere Cancer Centre.

It was good to see some of the people who treated me, and they were all astonished to see how well I was doing just 2 weeks after surgery.

I am able to walk easily and eat well too. I visited some of the patients I have met along the way. It was great to catch up with them and check on how well they are recovering.

We had a busy weekend planned with friends coming to stay on Friday and then my niece’s confirmation and sisters birthday on Sunday. It was a glorious weekend in terms of weather and it was made even more special as I was able to spend it with family and friends.

Over the weekend I plucked up the courage to have my first alcoholic drink since my operation too, it went down well.

This week, however, has been a bit more difficult. I have been a bit ill from eating and had to stop part way through meals and come back to the meal a little later once I had recovered from what is called “early dumping syndrome”. This is where the food is effectively dumped into the intestine and it does cause a considerable amount of pain and discomfort.

The silly thing is that after a couple of minutes I blow my nose and everything settles back down and I can carry on with eating. However, I would rather deal with this every so often than live with cancer, it’s a small price to pay.

The pain I have in the abdomen has been worse this week too. After speaking to the doctor and nurses, they have told me this should ease over time as everything is still settling down internally.

Sometimes the pain is unbearable and over the course of an evening the pain will move down my torso. With these issues, I find myself worrying and wishing it could be easier, but need to remember that it will get easier over time and it has only been three weeks since I had my stomach removed, it will take time.

Earlier this week, I went to see the coeliac dietician who was surprised to read through my notes and see that I had had a gastrecomy following stomach cancer. He has obviously seen it before, but he told me he would have only expected patients over 70 years to have this type of problem.

He showed me the pictures from the biopsies that were taken last year and explained I was lucky that it was found when it was, another 6-12 months and it may have been too late. At the end of this month I will find out more details about further treatment I will need and when this is likely to begin, and I will also see the geneticist who will advise on how this may affect my children. This is really important to me as I want the kids to be safe and if required they may need to tests, but this would put our minds at rest, as they say, knowledge is power.

Overall though, I can’t complain, I no longer have stomach cancer and I am here and alive, albeit in a little pain, but this should pass and then I can move on from this episode in my life and look forward to many more happy years with my family.

Ric’s blog ultracancer.blogspot.co.uk