TUMOUR WILL KILL ME .. BUT OP MIGHT PARALYSE
Paralympic hero’s awful cancer diagnosis
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