A MAUCHLINE man almost died after mistaking his vicious tumour for a chest infection.

Joe Crofts was 35 when he put off going to the doctors for months as he dismissed his lethal cancer symptoms.

But after he for antibiotics he was rushed for an emergency chest x-ray, followed by a CT scan.

The IT Worker was shocked to find out he had a tumour in his lung and needed surgery to cut it out right away.

Now he is begging others not to fob off symptoms or signs after his life was saved just in the nick of time.

Joe said:“When you go through something like that, you do think that you’re going to make big changes to your life and do things differently.

When in reality, once you fully recover, normality takes over and life goes on.

“Pretty soon after the surgery, we made a move from the city to the countryside, something we’d always wanted to do, and we got married after putting it off for a long time.

“I still get check-ups every year, and when the calendar appointment comes around, I do get a bit uptight. But it’s great to get the full MOT and have that reassurance. Every day I’m thankful for thehance I’ve been given.”

His father, John Crofts, finds himself saying a silent prayer of thanks every April, as the family mark son Joe’s ‘lung-iversary’ – eight years on from Joe’s lung cancer diagnosis.

He said: ““Joe had been going back and forwards to the doctor, but my wife Jean kept saying that she thought something wasn’t right.

“He didn’t tell us about his diagnosis immediately, but when the time came for him to go to hospital for surgery, he phoned to say that a ‘growth’ had been found in his lung.

“We love him dearly and felt so damned helpless as there was literally nothing we could do.”

Joe needed no further treatment, returning to work three months later. He got back on his bike to help with his recovery, which led to him taking on cycle challenges to raise money for Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation, most recently completing a charity cycle from London to Paris.

The Scottish Government’s Detect Cancer Early campaign highlights the role that early diagnosis can have on improving cancer survival in a bid to encourage people to act if they have a potential symptom or are invited for screening.