Par­a­lympic hero’s aw­ful can­cer di­ag­no­sis

Daily Record - - NEWS -

BY ALAN McEWEN PAR­A­LYMPIC row­ing gold medal­list David Smith has spo­ken of the ter­ri­ble dilemma he faces be­tween an op that could save his life – but that could also paral­yse him.

The Scot, who tasted glory at the Lon­don 2012 Games, was re­cently di­ag­nosed with can­cer for the fourth time.

The 40-year-old said he’d been told how surgery to re­move a tu­mour crush­ing his spinal cord could leave him paral­ysed be­low the neck.

Hours later, brave David was at the Team Scot­land Scot­tish Sports Awards on Thurs­day to pick up an hon­our.

Re­ceiv­ing the Team Scot of the Year ac­co­lade, one guest re­vealed David told the emo­tional au­di­ence he didn’t want to “end up a head”.

The guest added that the sports­man pledged to “go on for as long as I can”.

Speak­ing to BBC Scot­land mo­ments af­ter learn­ing of the dan­gers of surgery, David said: “I just got told 10 min­utes ago that this ag­gres­sive tu­mour that I have is crush­ing my spinal cord again.

“If I choose not to have surgery, ba­si­cally I’m go­ing to lose my life and, if I make the choice of go­ing for surgery, I might be paral­ysed from the neck down.”

David was forced out of the 2016 Rio games, where he’d in­tended to com­pete as a cy­clist, due to a sim­i­lar tu­mour.

He spoke about cop­ing men­tally with can­cer af­ter Thurs­day’s dev­as­tat­ing blow.

Dun­fermline-born David said: “The way I deal with the news when I get told, the way I deal with the surg­eries, the way I deal with the re­hab, is that I try to use the same per­cep­tion as if I’m get­ting into a ring or on the start line of an Olympic fi­nal.

“That re­leases a lot of pos­i­tive hor­mones. The real se­cret is the con­ver­sa­tion. Not the one you have ex­ter­nally with other peo­ple, it’s the con­ver­sa­tion you have with your­self in­ter­nally.”

David’s de­fi­ance at the awards bash in Ed­in­burgh left other ath­letes tearful.

Com­mon­wealth Games Scot­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Jon Doig said: “David was se­lected as our Team Scot of the Year in recog­ni­tion of his con­tin­ued drive and de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed in his sport­ing ca­reer while bat­tling the ad­ver­sity of re­turn­ing life-threat­en­ing tu­mours.

“His story brings in­spi­ra­tion to many peo­ple fac­ing their own chal­lenges.

“We were dev­as­tated to learn on the day of the awards from David that the tu­mour has re­turned.

“He is in all our thoughts and has the sup­port not only of his friends at Team Scot­land but many peo­ple across the coun­try.”

DE­FI­ANT David at Team Scot­land Awards

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