By Cara Sulieman
A CANCER beating martial arts teacher has clinched a European title after fighting testicular cancer that threatened to ruin his taekwondo career.
He celebrated the win on his 42nd birthday earlier this month after undergoing radiotherapy for the cancer he was diagnosed with two years ago.
Peter, a joiner at Napier University, has been passionate about the sport for the past eight years after taking it up to keep fit when he retired from professional football.
Best Veteran Team
And the sport runs in the family, with Peter’s wife Lynne, 45, recently achieving a black belt while his step-sons Liam, 13 and Peter, 15, starting to learn the basics.
As well as the championship title, Peter won three gold and two silver medals at the competition in Barletta on March 14.
They were just some of the awards bagged by the Scottish team, who were voted Best Veteran Team in Europe as well as bagging a total of six gold, nine silver and 13 bronze medals.
He said: “I started taekwondo when I finished playing football eight years ago. I wanted to do something that would keep me fit and flexible.
“The sport is just as good for my fitness as football, if not better.”
But his budding martial arts career was threatened by his diagnosis just three days before Christmas in 2008.
Despite undergoing an operation to remove the tumour in January 2009 and a gruelling course of radiotherapy in March of the same year, Peter credits the disease for his winning streak.
He said: “I was diagnosed with cancer a few days before Christmas in 2008 and it was a real shock to the system.
“You only ever tend to read about these things and never think this is going to happen to you.
“Although I was in complete shock of being diagnosed, and then having to think about the orchiectomy and the radiotherapy, the main thing going through my mind was what a set back it was going to be for me in my taekwondo.
“It was my passion for the last eight years and the thought of it being taken away from me all of a sudden was a scary one.”
“Get back to my best”
But he received the all-clear after his radiotherapy and is celebrating a glorious return to the sport after being picked in January for the Scottish team at the European championships.
Peter has also bagged six golds, four silvers and one bronze in national martial arts competitions since his recovery.
Peter – from the Liberton area of Edinburgh – said: “I still go for check-ups and won’t get the final all-clear for another five years.
“But this is the first year that I have been able to get back to taekwondo properly since I was diagnosed.
“After my treatment, I began to do light stretching with the help of my instructor, Frank Lindsay.
“I wanted to be back to my best right away and often got ahead of myself but Frank was really good in reining me back, so that I got back to full fitness properly.
“I think that it’s important for everyone to have a hobby they enjoy, but for me, my taekwondo really was my life saver during the early stages of my cancer diagnosis.”
“Catch my eye”
And taekwondo hasn’t just given Peter the strength to fight cancer – he met his wife through the sport.
He said: “It was love at first punch. Anyone who could deliver a punch quicker than me was always going to catch my eye,”
Peter still has to go for regular check ups to make sure that the cancer has not returned, but he is hopeful that he has a bright future.
He said: “I am hoping to go back to the European Championships in Russia next year and defend my title.
“If I can raise the sponsorship then I’m also hoping to go to the World Championships in Belarus this summer.”