Golfer was told he had four weeks to live, due to rare illness

A COURAGEOUS man has fought back from death’s door to enjoy a Christmas he thought he would never see.

David Wood is back on the golf course and has praised the NHS for helping him survive after his world was turned upside down a little over two years ago when doctors diagnosed a very rare and aggressive lymphoma [blood cancer] in the fluid around his brain.

He was told he could have only four weeks to live.

Even if he survived, doctors warned the chances of the super-strong chemotherapy helping him overcome the condition were less than five per cent.

“In the lottery of life I did not have very good odds at all of having a winning ticket,” he said.

After early retirement from his role as director of strategy at Malvern Hills District Council, keen golfer Mr Wood, of Rothwell Road, Malvern Wells, had been enjoying life on the fairways of Worcestershire Golf Club.

To learn he would soon be at death’s door was a shocking discovery.

The 63-year-old said: “I asked my consultant to say everything he had just told me to my wife, because I could not bear the thought of telling her.”

Mr Wood refused to give up and threw himself into several courses of intensive, debilitating chemotherapy.

Several weeks later, however, he was incapable of walking and “feeling in a shocking state”.

But hope sprung when he was approved to undergo a painstaking and highly specialised stem cell transplant that, if successful, would give him a second chance at life.

The complex process at Heartlands Hospital in Birmingham involves “harvesting” and cryogenically freezing cells from a patient’s own body.

Once enough have been gathered, bone marrow is stripped away through a strong dose of chemotherapy and the harvested stem cells used to replace it.

Again Mr Wood’s life was in the balance.

“Once the cells into your system, there is a period where you are hoping and praying that it works, because if not you are essentially done for,” he said.

Now in complete remission, Mr Wood is making the most of having his life back.

“I have been permanently damaged, both physically and psychologically, but I am back in the real world of hope for the future,” he said.

Mr Wood has nothing but praise for everyone in the NHS involved in his treatment – from the staff on Laurel 3 ward at Worcestershire Royal and Heartlands to his GPs at Link End Surgery and the district nurses who at times were visiting his home daily.

“With their help and bucketloads of personal determination and strength of mind I survived,” he said.

“It makes me sad that so often the stories you hear about the NHS are from the ones with an axe to grind.

“I wanted to share my story on behalf of the silent majority.”

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