As my mobility was largely unaffected, I didn't really take much notice of it until me and my parents went on a family holiday to Florida. By then the pain was so severe it was keeping me awake at night. I was also beginning to lose weight and my appetite was disappearing. The GPs took x-rays of my knee and found nothing. One very helpful doctor even suggested I was making the whole thing up for attention!
Eventually I was sent sent to hospital where they scanned my lower body and found a tumour the size of a jaffa orange on my left pelvis. The pain being caused by the tumour pressing down on the main nerve running down the leg and up to the spinal cord. From what I can remember my parents did their best to keep me from the rather gloomy prognosis but I was a bright kid and I knew it was serious. I had a matter of months to live; the doctors assuming that it would be a matter of time before it would either spread or they would find a primary tumour. A biopsy confirmed that the tumour was malignant and my condition had a name: Ewing Sarcoma.
I was sent home and told to be made as comfortable as possible and to prepare to be recalled to hospital for a few blasts of radiotherapy which would hopefully delay the inevitable when my parents were informed of a new (and rather risky) treatment procedure for Ewing Sarcoma. The procedure involved frequent bursts of chemotherapy and radical surgery involving the removal of the fibula at the back of the leg and planting it where the pelvis should be in two parallel struts, rather like the pillars supporting a bridge from underneath. I had the operation in October 1989 after several excruciating sessions of chemotherapy which not even the worst hangover has come anywhere close to resembling. The cancer reacted better than expected to the chemotherapy. After the first session the horrendous pain in my knee had all but gone.
The operation to rebuild my pelvis took over 8 hours. I don't remember very much apart from my Dad checking to see if my leg was still there every 10 minutes. I was entombed in plaster-of-paris for 4 months and then embarked on a grueling physiotherapy regime which would've had Steve Redgrave crying for his mum. Did the trick though! I do not suffer from any noticeable signs of this fantastic and innovative piece of design other than a slight limp. My parents coped remarkably well throughout the whole thing and were a tower of strength for me, especially my mum who gave birth to my brother Michael in January 1990 only three months after I had all that surgery.
I had a few more chemotherapy sessions after the operation to clear up anything left over and had finished my treatment by June 1990 although I went into hospital for physiotherapy regularly for a year or so thereafter. I still go for check ups every year but that's more for the benefit of research than anything. I am left with two breathtaking scars on my left side and also a very relaxed attitude to life which pleases and infuriates those close to me. As a cancer survivor, I should know better than to chose the hedonistic lifestyle which I lead but then not everyone has had the same childhood as me so I stand by it and I'm proud of who I am.
I owe my life to the doctors and nurses, the NHS as a whole but most of all to my brave and supportive family who will always be an inspiration to me and a lot of people.