Boxer defies odds to beat death sentence
IN 2015, Gary Russell-Sharam was handed a death sentence.
Sat in a doctor's office alongside his son Zac, Mr Russell-Sharam was told his prostate cancer had spread into his body.
He was put onto hormone treatment and given two and a half to five years to live.
While he put on a brave face for his son, he said the moment felt like being struck with a sledgehammer.
"I had to be strong for my wife Mandy and my youngest son, they were both in a dark place after I was diagnosed," he said.
Despite his brave show, Mr Russell-Sharam said his bleakest thoughts would emerge when he was alone.
"It was the worst when I would lay awake at 3am kept awake by the thought I would never get to meet my grandchildren," he said.
As the former president of Warwick Golf Club and secretary of the rugby club, Mr Russell-Sharam was always a doer and refused to be beaten by his illness.
But the hormone treatment chipped away at his testosterone, causing debilitating fatigue and destroying the muscle definition he had built up from decades of playing league.
Dr John Kiss from Condamine Medical Centre recommended Mr Russell-Sharam join the Warwick Boxing Club to slow his deterioration.
He promised to attend.
"The first time I came to the Boxing Club was tough, really tough," Mr Russell-Sharam said.
"I could barely do a sit-up and the next day I was so sore I struggled to get out of bed.
"But still, I wanted to keep my promise and as I trained it went from one night a week to two and so on, I started losing weight and improving my fitness again."
Mr Russell-Sharam's determination caught the attention of the doctors at the Ipswich Hospital who advised he visit Dr Hando Rhee at Princess Alexandra Hospital.
Dr Rhee directed him to a treatment called salvage radiation therapy.
"He said the radiation would target the whole of my pelvic region and it had a 20 per cent chance of destroying the cancer and an 80 per cent chance it would cause damage to my bowel or bladder," he said.
Not wanting to be on hormone therapy for the time he had left, he decided to roll the dice on the risky therapy.
Twenty-seven treatments later and at an age doctors once said he would never reach, 74-year-old Mr Russell-Sharam is cancer-free, surviving a treatment that has destroyed the organs of younger men.
"Dr Rhee said I had made the best recovery he had ever seen, he never wants to see me again he is so happy for me," he said.
Mr Russell-Sharam said he would not be alive without Dr Kiss, Dr Rhee and his friends at Warwick Boxing Club.
"If it was not for these blokes at the club being with me every step of the way, I never would have been healthy enough to get through those treatments," he said.
Life member of the boxing club and life friend of Mr Russell-Sharam, Ted Farrell, watched his mate's amazing recovery.
"A lot of guys would have thrown in the towel but Gary never stopped fighting," Mr Farrell said.
Mr Russell-Sharam now attends the boxing club four times a week and said he is as fit as he was in his fifties.
"The club is all about mental toughness, no pain, no gain, but the pain is lessened by the support we give each other," he said.