Ric Clarke: I will win my cancer battle

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 Clarke, 33, who lives in Penwortham, near Preston, told the Evening Post how becoming ill with hypothermia saved his life.

Ric, who is married to Leonie and has two young boys, exercised regularly. However, while swimming as part of a triathlon last year, he collapsed with hypothermia. Doctors discovered a cancerous tumour. Richard is now undergoing treatment and is determined to beat the disease. He will be writing a weekly diary in the Lancashire Evening Post throughout his cancer journey. Here is his first column...

As a 33 year old man, one of the last things you would expect to hear is that you have cancer.

The lead up to this was emotional, from finding out that I am coeliac (a gluten allergy disease) to having several endoscopes and being told you have a tumour the day of the work’s Christmas party, the one event in the works social calendar that you look forward to, it was quite a roller-coaster.

This whole process mentally prepared us for the meeting with the consultant, but you don’t want to hear the word malignant, you never quite expect that this could happen to you.

The day we found out, January 31 2014, I went to the hospital with my wife.

We sat in the waiting room joking between ourselves, but nothing could prepare us for what we were about to be told.

As the consultant went through the details, I felt an overwhelming sensation of numbness, this wasn’t happening to me.

He asked if we needed some time to take it in; I told him that I was OK and that I wanted treatment to start as soon as possible.

In all honesty, I couldn’t fault the NHS, the people who do those jobs are exceptional, and they have to deal with a lot of different outcomes; I couldn’t do it.

Since finding out the news, I have thought long and hard about it.

As you can imagine, the questions of “why me?” go through your head over and over, these will never be answered and I have found that there is no point dwelling on the what ifs as this won’t gain you anything.

Instead I have decided to look at this as a positive.

I have been forced to change my diet, so have made an effort to eat more fruit and veg.

I have given up smoking and once it is all over I intend to continue with running long distance, I hope to run more ultra distances, why not, I am still young and I want to be as healthy as possible.

The people around me have been great, really supportive and, OK, I have cancer, but why should that stop me having a normal life.

I consider myself a positive person and cancer won’t change that, it may change me physically, and also change my outlook on life but I will stay positive, not just for myself but also for my wife and my two young boys.

I started chemotherapy on February 28 and I am on a 21-day cycle and will have three cycles before surgery and three further cycles afterwards.

The surgery will remove my stomach (where the cancer is) and I will have to change my eating habits, I will have to eat more frequently and smaller portions, but this will suit me as I tend to graze throughout the day.

So far the chemo has not been that bad.

The day in hospital was long but not difficult or painful.

The staff in Rosemere are fantastic and the people on the ward are full of life.

Since then I have been on medication and the symptoms have been a mainly focussed around energy levels or lack of.

I have felt queasy most of the time and a few days this has gotten worse, but nothing that a normal person couldn’t cope with.

I have been going to work, albeit shorter days.

Work have been supportive throughout, and that eases the pressure.

Overall, I have been great, considering the chemo and medication, I don’t want the cancer to take control of me, I will have control.

I will beat it!