‘Today I am having my operation’

Family time: Ric with his wife Leonie

Family time: Ric with his wife Leonie

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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 talks about spending quality time with family and friends before going into hospital to have an operation.

I have really enjoyed my week, it has been fantastic. At the weekend we had planned a big BBQ to celebrate our eighth wedding anniversary. We have one each year and so many family and friends came, and loads of kids too. It was a great day and such good fun, and it was topped off with England’s first game in the World Cup. After many laughs and a few too many drinks I went to bed happy.

Sunday was a busy day too. We had some friends stay over on Saturday night so they helped in the morning and we all had bacon sandwiches. I had to change my tyre but I had help to do it. Then it was off for a meal to celebrate my sister’s birthday. It was a really good afternoon. As it was Father’s Day, we also went to Leonie’s parents and had a brew with them. All in all, it was a fantastic weekend and I had seen almost everyone I would want to. I had such a good time over the weekend, we spent time as a family, with our extended family and all of our friends, just what was needed.

On Sunday night, I had trouble sleeping, as I thought about how daunting the next couple of weeks will be and became a little anxious and apprehensive. Questions raced around my head and I had no answers. I didn’t panic though, and came to the conclusion that I’m not the first and certainly wont be the last to have this operation done, and that I have fantastic support around me, not only the medical professionals, but all of my family and friends.

Monday and Tuesday, I spent at work and I handed over all the important things to the team and updated everything as best I could. My boss asked me for a quick meeting on Tuesday. This turned out to be a presentation, where everybody in the office came to wish me well and they gave me a few gifts to aid recovery, (board games, quiz books etc) as well as some other special treats. I was overwhelmed with it all and I became quite emotional. They had also made me a card which they had all signed and it brought a tear to my eye reading the positive comments and good wishes from everyone. In the afternoon I did my round of the office and saw as many people as I could, I won’t be going back for 12 weeks and I will miss the place.

During the past couple of weeks we had planned to go out for my last BIG meal, but we couldn’t decide on where. On Tuesday, we decided on Duk Pond. We had never been before and it was really good. I will definitely be going back there once I am recovered. It was quiet and Leonie and I chatted all night. It was good to be just the two of us after such a hectic weekend. I sat thinking that just in a couple of days I wouldn’t have a stomach, and that’s a strange thought to have. Some people have said to me over the past couple of days that it’s strange to think one day I will be walking around, the next I will be in intensive care, not many people can plan their week like that, but I have.

Wednesday morning was relaxed before going into hospital and spending the afternoon and evening on ward 3. It will be the longest period I will have spent away from my family. I will miss them all and can’t wait for the boys to come and visit me next week.

Today I am having my operation to remove my whole stomach. I am nervous – who wouldn’t be going into a major operation, but I can’t change anything over the course of today, I can only concentrate on and affect my recovery. So I will focus on that over the next week. The words of encouragement from all the people who have contacted me over the past days will be in my mind as I recover in Intensive Care, and when I get onto the ward.

Hopefully the stay in hospital will go smoothly and as planned. I am looking forward to spending some time catching up on reading and relaxing, so the hospital stay will be a breeze.