A CAGE fighter has been hailed as 'inspirational' and received hundreds of messages of support after posting a diary of his battle against terminal bowel cancer on the internet.
Wil Handford, 22, describes how he has gone from 'being in the best shape of his life' to losing two stone in two weeks and being told he has between three and six months to live in the blog. The mixed martial arts expert, who trained with Sinclair MMA in Burnley and has fought at Colne Muni, found out he had cancer after returning from a boxing training camp in Thailand.
He said he started to suffer agonising stomach pains after a sparring session and couldn't sleep or eat.
After a few days he visited a local hospital where scans revealed nodules around his abdomen. Doctors urged him to return to the UK for further tests.
His mum Karen met him at Manchester Airport, where Wil said she looked 'gutted as I looked like a skeleton', and took him straight to Royal Blackburn Hospital where he spent two weeks.
Two weeks later, doctors gave him the devastating news he had bowel cancer which had spread through his abdomen and his colon.
Describing the moment, Wil said: "After that, they went on to give more and more bad news. They said because of the severity of it they couldn't operate.
"There were a few big tumours. They said all they could offer is to try to reduce it to prolong my life.
"When you're sat there and they're telling you this, it's hard to clock in your head. I said: 'So you're telling me I'm going to die from this?' and they just said 'yeah'.
"They said at this stage if you do nothing at all, it's really aggressive. You've lasted as long as you have because you're young and fit. You've probably got three to six months. I was just sat there gobsmacked."
But Wil, who had hopes of becoming a plumber and studied for an apprenticeship at Accrington and Rossendale College, has vowed to 'chin up' and not let cancer beat him.
And he said his whole family, including mum Karen, twin sister Catherine and little brother Eduard and long-term girlfriend, Rose Barrowclough, are backing him in his ultimate battle.
The former Fisher and Thomas Moore High student, from Colne, said: "You've got to keep fighting, chin up. I've had loads of support and it's great to know you've got people that care for you.
"But you've got to keep the fight and I will be doing.
"I think I will do better, that's what you've got to keep thinking. It was tough telling my family, my sister, my girlfriend, all my friends. It's horrendous news for everyone.
"But I'm trying to be confident about it, trying not to get down. That helps everyone in the house. Everyone has got a really good attitude for it really and believe, no matter what the doctors say, I'll come out on top."
Lancashire Telegraph medical expert, Dr Tom Smith said: “It is extremely rare for a young man of Wil’s age to get bowel cancer. In fact I’d say there’s only a handful of cases every year.
“There was another young lad in the news last week, Stephen Sutton, who was tweeting and fundraising because he wanted to raise £2 million pounds.
“It is extremely unusual to hear of two in the same week. Wil is a very courageous young man indeed and I wish him well.”
Messages of support for Wil have flooded in from Facebook users.
Ryan Scott posted: "You're the most fun loving and optimistic guy I've had the pleasure meeting Will, you show the rest of us up."
Victoria Rowe Mate said: "You're so brave. Thoughts are with you, keep smiling & stay this positive just as you have been."
Steff Neville Will wrote: 'Absolutely inspirational!
And Danny McCabe wrote: 'Always stay positive, Will. If you stay mentally well you've won the battle, nothing changed from school...still an amazing guy."