A young Dundee dad who has been diagnosed with terminal cancer says he is refusing to become a “sob story”.
Robbie Ritchie, 21, from Fintry was diagnosed with a rare form of Hodgkin lymphoma in February.
Doctors discovered Robbie had been living with the illness throughout lockdown, and he later caught coronavirus while his body was battling the disease.
Robbie is currently in partial remission but knows his cancer will return. He is determined to make the most of his life, despite the illness looming over him.
He said: “I’ve not been having the best of times but it is what it is.
“My cancer is currently in a kind of remission however, it is going to come back.
“I just have to keep an eye out for the signs – things like night sweats, weight loss, difficulty with my lungs, that sort of thing.
“I have plenty of fight in me.
“I don’t want this to be a sob story – I definitely don’t want people to feel sorry for me.
“I also don’t want my family and friends to be upset. Right now I am just getting on with life as best I can.
“I’m not going to let this get in the way of living my life.”
Robbie has Nodular Predominant Lymphocyte Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, a rare type of blood cancer. Only 200 people in the UK are diagnosed with this each year.
Around one in four people have the advanced stage of the cancer when they are diagnosed and Robbie was stage three.
By the time he received his diagnosis, Robbie’s cancer was too far advanced for surgery and he had to have aggressive chemotherapy on his whole body, rather than just one area.
Robbie is currently in what doctors called partial remission.
They told him that his cancer will definitely return – but they don’t know when.
Robbie, worked at the 2 Sisters Food Group chicken factory in Coupar Angus before his illness forced him to give it up.
Before he was diagnosed he was working in sub-zero temperatures while his body fought the cancer. Had he known he was ill, he would have been shielding.
There have been three Covid-19 outbreaks at the factory since the start of the pandemic.
Mid-way through his chemotherapy, Robbie caught coronavirus, but not via the factory.
His mum, Dawn Ritchie, spoke of her anguish at being unable to visit her son when he needed her most.
“With the Covid situation none of us could visit him or attend his chemo appointments, he had to do the lot on his own,” the 47-year-old said.
“Halfway through his treatment we got the great news we had been hoping for, his lumps were shrinking so responding to the chemo – at last some positive news.
“Then comes another blow, he contracted Covid-19, the only person who we really didn’t want to catch it.
“Thankfully, being the fighter that he is, he battled that too.
“At times it was really a struggle.
“You never want to hear your child convinced they are going to die but mostly he just put his head down and got on with it.”
After losing his job, Robbie and his partner Steph Ferguson were struggling to support their three-year-old daughter, Lily.
He applied to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) for benefits but was initially refused Personal Independence Payments (PIP).
After The Courier contacted the DWP on Robbie’s behalf, he received confirmation that he would in fact be receiving PIP.
A spokeswoman for the DWP said: “Mr Ritchie asked for us to review his original application for Personal Independence Payment and, with additional information, we have now found him entitled to the highest rate of support.
“Any money owed will be paid immediately.”
Mum Dawn has been helping to look after Lily, who has recently been diagnosed with autism.
She has also launched a fundraiser to help the family make happier memories than they have had in the last year.
She added: “Robbie has tried to keep his banter on form throughout in true Robbie fashion.
“But he is also very conscious about what we are all feeling and tries to keep his pain to himself because he doesn’t want us worrying and upset.
“He has had a hell of a year between cancer, getting Covid halfway through, his and Steph’s little angel being diagnosed with autism.”
Dawn also hopes to donate some of the money to Ninewells Hospital, where Robbie was treated.
Dawn said: “They helped Robbie through his journey, they all were amazing with him.”
In a bid to battle his cancer Robbie and his family say they are prepared to try anything that might help him.
He registered with the newly opened Sapphire Medical Cannabis Clinic in Stirling.
Robbie said he is aware cannabis treatments are controversial but added: “When I started it helped the pain massively.
“It’s my body and I’m prepared try anything at all that might work for me.”
Donations to Robbie’s fundraiser can be made here.