Peter Sykes is a grateful man. Two-and-a-half years since displaying the first signs of deadly bone cancer, he has survived to tell the tale.
But despite bravely overcoming his illness - osteosarcoma - Peter says he could have been treated far earlier if doctors had been more aware of the signs of the disease.
Now the 32-year-old, from Intake in Sheffield, has written his own book called ‘Today’, in which he shares his experiences of cancer treatment in the hope it will help other patients receive a speedier diagnosis.
“If there’s someone in a situation like myself, I think the book will help them immensely,” he said.
“I’m doing well, I smile every day and I’m just thankful and very humble to the people who helped me.”
Peter’s struggle with cancer began in 2011 when he banged his leg at a party. Instead of feeling temporary discomfort, the knock caused a searing pain.
“I had never felt pain like this in my life - it was alarming and I couldn’t walk at all,” he said.
Peter went to A&E at the Northern General Hospital, where initial X-rays didn’t uncover anything untoward.
“For the next two months the pain never went away and I was on crutches and in much pain all the time, so I attended my doctor’s surgery every week complaining.
“In the next few months I was on constant pain killers, anti-inflammatories and strapping myself up with knee supports.
“I was doing less and less and life just started to slow down.”
One of Peter’s symptoms was a constant pain in his leg in the night - a typical symptom of osteosarcoma.
He eventually bypassed his GP and demanded a hospital appointment with a consultant.
“I showed him my left knee and instantly he told me I had a tumour. He was 99 per cent positive, but I couldn’t believe it. The following day I had scans which confirmed what he thought.”
Osteosarcoma is a rare form of primary bone cancer, meaning a cancer that starts in the bone.
It starts when one bone cell becomes abnormal and grows out of control to form a tumour. The cells in the tumour try to create new bone as they grow and divide.
Peter started a gruelling three-month course of chemotherapy, then underwent surgery at Birmingham Royal Orthopaedic Hospital. Further treatment was needed when tests showed cancer had spread to his lungs.
“I just kept going until April 2013 when I was told I had finished all my treatment.
“Within the next few weeks I started to feel a bit stronger physically. All the little things I always cherished in life were coming back.”
Peter has been in remission for nine months and is given regular check-ups at three-monthly intervals.
“I’m taking things step by step, and hopefully I will be able to get some sort of job next.
“Obviously life has changed, and I’ll also have to change careers because I worked on construction sites before.
“But I’m still here and always will be until it’s my time.”
Proceeds from Peter’s book will go to the Bone Cancer Research Trust, which campaigns to raise awareness.
Survival rates for the disease have not improved in more than 25 years.
“If my story helps just one person, then it will have been worth it. Having cancer has really changed my outlook on life and I know I can deal with anything that comes my way now.
“There really isn’t much known about bone cancer, and information needs to get out there.”
The book is priced £10, visit www.justgiving.com/TodaytheBook999 to buy a copy.