Chef vows to fight on after op

A TEENAGER will learn tomorrow the extent to which his leg will have to be amputated as he fights an extremely rare cancer.James Bevan, 19, has seven tumours in his right foot, with three others in his shin, one in his left knee and another in his lung.

A TEENAGER will learn tomorrow the extent to which his leg will have to be amputated as he fights an extremely rare cancer.

James Bevan, 19, has seven tumours in his right foot, with three others in his shin, one in his left knee and another in his lung.

The promising chef, from Nacton Road, Ipswich, was told in November that he was suffering from a rare form of bone cancer - Chondroid Syringoma - with only an estimated 13 cases worldwide.

The news came shortly after top chef Brian Turner offered him the prospect of a job at his restaurant in Grosvenor Square, London.

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Doctors have already said he will have to have his right foot amputated to combat the disease.

But on Christmas Eve James will receive the results of a biopsy on the tumours in his shin and if they are similar to those on his foot, his leg may have to be amputated at the knee.

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Surgeons had wanted to perform the operation tomorrow but James is hoping it can be put off until after Christmas.

It is hoped chemotherapy will clear the tumour in his lung and his left knee, although surgeons have not ruled out the need to amputate part of James' other leg.

He said: “I was playing tennis three years ago now and I just stepped forward and felt a sharp pain in my foot so I took my shoes and socks off and a huge lump appeared on my foot.

“I showed my dad and he sent me to the doctors but the doctor didn't know what it was. I was sent to Ipswich Hospital but they still didn't know what it was.

“They did surgery straightaway and did a biopsy afterwards. It was a non-malignant tumour.”

However, this year James has undergone a series of scans at The Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital, in Stanmore, which revealed he had seven tumours in his foot, with one the size of a fist on his right heel, and others spread around his body.

He said: “There are three tumours on my leg in my shin. I had a biopsy and they drilled through the front of my shin under local anaesthetic. They gave me gas and air but I passed out.

“They had done a biopsy on the main one on my heel and they will now see if the other ones are the same character. There are three tightly grouped together on my shin so they took a biopsy of the middle one.

“They will wait until after the operation on my leg to sort out the tumours on my lung and the one on my left knee with chemotherapy.

“My foot is definitely coming off just above my ankle and it might have to come off just below my knee.

“They said it might have to come off below the knee when there was one tumour there but now there are three it is most likely to be at the knee.”

Even though James describes the pain as like someone taking an axe to his ankle, remarkably he is very upbeat about his condition.

He even joked: “I did ask if I could have my foot in a pickle jar but as it's a rare type of cancer they have to send it away for biopsy.”

His ability to be positive was probably down to the fact that his father has successfully been fighting cancer, he said.

“Going through that with my dad made me stronger, to tell the truth. I feel the support I have got from my family and friends is overwhelming,” he said.

“I think if I didn't have half of the support I have got now I don't think I would be able to cope.

“A lot of the hurt I am feeling now is the thought that I am putting a burden on others.”

The 19-year-old, who was a keen football player, is no stranger to hospitals. When he was six he contracted a rare form of pneumonia. He ruptured his cruciate ligaments when he was 11 as well as his shoulder ligaments when he was 16. He also fell through a window, gashing his arm open.

Injury also stopped the former Stradbroke High School student playing rugby for Diss RFC and meant he could not got to trials for the Saracens youth team.

About six weeks after the amputation he will be fitted with a prosthetic limb and he hopes he can then get a sports limb.

James, who studied catering at City College, in Norwich, said: “The chemo should be able to get rid of it all but it depends on my lung and how big the tumour actually is. When it comes to it they might have to operate.

“In some ways I'll never get back to normal. I've been told I can go back into sport again, although it might be dangerous for other people.

“I will still have my chefing, which is my passion. Everything I have dreamt about doing is coming true.

“I always dreamt about working with Brian Turner and to get a high-quality job in chefing. It's starting to look like the ideal Christmas present to me.”

His girlfriend, 17-year-old Leanne Atkins, has decided to cut down on her hours at work to help look after him when he comes out of hospital.

But James, who has worked in the Park Hotel, in Diss, as well as the Lord Nelson pub, in Ipswich, said his new career prospects would motivate him to walk as soon as possible.

He said: “It's weird how one bad thing gets compensated by a good thing. I have to look at the bright side.”

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