Doug Ritchie celebrates a win at Relay for Life

A HORSHAM cancer survivor celebrated a win only hours before participating in the Horsham and District Relay for Life at the weekend.

Doug Ritchie is a survivor of testicular cancer and was absent for last year's event because he was halfway through chemotherapy.

On Friday morning, he underwent surgery to have his chemotherapy port removed the last physical reminder of the illness.

Mr Ritchie said he was diagnosed with testicular cancer in January last year, after complications with a routine vasectomy.

He said he had an inoperable tumour in his lymph gland and required chemotherapy.

With the support of his wife Melissa and their four children Olivia, 8, Jameson, 5, Ebony, 3 and Edan, 2 Mr Ritchie underwent six months of the gruelling treatment.

"I have now been well and healthy since the middle of last year," he said.

Mr Ritchie said having the port removed from his chest was amazing.

"It was a constant reminder that was physically there," he said.

"It reminded me of what I'd been through.

"It's a big thing psychologically to be finished with cancer."

He said the support of his family was paramount to his recovery.

"My children have been my rock," he said.

"They handled the whole thing pretty well, considering. They were enjoying the fact that dad was home, but not that dad was sick."

The treatment caused Mr Ritchie to lose his hair and trademark beard.

He said that was quite confronting for his children.

"They had to come to terms with the whole process and to see my hair going something they had always known was hard," he said.

Mr Ritchie said he was now in remission and celebrated at every opportunity.

"Every time I get a check-up and it's good news, we celebrate again," he said.

Relay for Life was an extra special event for the Ritchie family as it marked the couple's first date 10 years ago.

This was Mr Ritchie's first year walking as a cancer survivor.

Mr Ritchie said it was difficult to find the words to express what that meant to him.

"It's an emotional experience," he said. "I've been involved in the relay for many years and to go from that to walking as a survivor it hits home.

"I'm just grateful for the support I have from my family. Not everyone is as lucky as I am."

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