TWO TIMES STRONG: Warwick resident John Ellis is a two-time participant in the WIRAC Cancer Survivor program, which helped him recover in more ways than one after he was diagnosed with one of the most vicious forms of cancer.
TWO TIMES STRONG: Warwick resident John Ellis is a two-time participant in the WIRAC Cancer Survivor program, which helped him recover in more ways than one after he was diagnosed with one of the most vicious forms of cancer. Marian Faa

Warwick man's amazing step-by-step comeback from cancer

WHEN John Ellis emerged from an operation to remove cancer from his pancreas, he could barely walk more than 300 steps.

With a seven per cent survival rate, pancreatic cancer is one of the most vicious forms of the disease. When Mr Ellis was diagnosed in late 2016, he found himself completely zapped of strength and motivation.

Even a small step down off the gutter resulted in a number of falls for Mr Ellis.

But when his daughter suggested he participate in a new 12-week cancer survivor exercise program at WIRAC, he saw a glimmer of hope.

"When something like this comes along, you say 'I can do this, I can go'," he said.

The program is specially designed to help people recovering from cancer. It consists of a series of repetitive exercises to develop strength and muscle conditioning over 12 weeks.

"You could feel your body react, you could feel the benefits," Mr Ellis said.

By the beginning of the program, Mr Ellis was walking around 1500 steps per day. By the end, that number was up to 8000, which is more than the average adult.

But the support and understanding of others who had been through the same thing was what really gave Mr Ellis the strength to keep fighting the disease.

"You listen to the experts talk to you and people feel sorry for you, but nobody knows what is going on," he said.

"You do have bad days and it's only when you talk to people who have had the same problems that they understand what a bad day is."

Mr Ellis found the program so beneficial, he went back the following year and did it a second time.

 

BOUNCING BACK: Warwick resident John Ellis is a two-time participant in the WIRAC Cancer Survivor program, which helped him recover in more ways than one.
BOUNCING BACK: Warwick resident John Ellis is a two-time participant in the WIRAC Cancer Survivor program, which helped him recover in more ways than one. Marian Faa

But two weeks after the second program finished, a routine scan showed Mr Ellis' cancer had returned.

He was rushed in to surgery and this time lost most of what remained of his pancreas and his entire spleen.

The operation left him with type 1 diabetes, his body unable to produce the hormones required to regulate his blood sugar levels.

But this time, Mr Ellis had a new foundation of mental and physical strength on his side to help him get through.

He made a remarkable recovery from the second operation, and said it was all thanks to the program.   "I was up and walking the very next day," he said.   "While this (second) operation is tough, I credit the condition I was in from the courses I had done to how well I am recovering."   Keen for another hit at the punching bag, Mr Ellis said he would love to be starting the WIRAC cancer survivor program for a third time on Monday, but a catheter implant in his chest for chemotherapy prevented him from doing the exercises.    But Mr Ellis said he would encourage anyone in the same position as him to sign up to the program.   "Anyone looking to help themselves move on from self pity and struggling with motivation, this is a very big help.   "It helped me in all ways: menatlly, physcially and accepting the curse of cancer."  



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