A GREENOCK grandad who went to see his doctor with a pain in his ribs was told he had a rare form of cancer which cannot be cured.

When Robert Fulton, 57, went to the GP complaining of discomfort he was initially treated with an anti-inflammatory medication.

The pain disappeared but kept coming back, so he was eventually referred for tests.

He said: “I was given an anti-inflammatory and it cleared up, then it came back three months later.

“This happened three times.”

Robert was then sent for an X-ray and a CT scan but nothing showed up.

However an MRI scan then revealed a shadow at the bottom of his spine, and blood tests confirmed that he had cancer.

Robert, who lives with his wife in Flatterton, said: “I was told I had multiple myeloma, a bone marrow cancer.

“I’d never heard of it before.

“When the doctor said it wasn’t curable but treatable I nearly fell off my chair.”

To make absolutely sure of the diagnosis, medics carried out a lumbar puncture and it confirmed the news which left Robert stunned.

Robert, who had never had a day off work through ill health before this happened, said: “I didn’t expect anything like that from a pain in my rib.

“When I heard it was cancer, I expected him to say that I only had three months to live. 

“Although I was told it wasn’t a cancer that was going to kill it was still a shock to the system.

“My grandchildren are only wee kids and I was worried I might not see them growing up.”

Robert was diagnosed in 2015 and since then he has been on a rollercoaster ride to combat his illness, which attacks the bones and affects the production of healthy blood cells.

The former shipyard worker, who latterly worked for Hewlett Packard, underwent months of chemotherapy.

He then underwent a life-saving stem cell transplant at the Beatson Cancer Centre in Glasgow last April.

Robert said: “They took the cells out then harvested them for three days, froze them, then they brought me back to the hospital a few months later to implant them.”

Robert also received high dose chemotherapy to make sure the cancerous cells had been cleared, and this ‘wiped out’ his immune system.

He says this was the most worrying part of the treatment, as he was told by different specialists that it could affect his organs.

He said: “I felt terrible, had mouth ulcers and I was sick all the time.”

Robert had to spend three weeks in an isolation unit to recuperate before being allowed home.

He had to be ultra careful over the next six months to avoid any risk of catching an infection and was only allowed to eat fresh food which had not been processed.

The form of cancer he has is quite uncommon, with only 4,800 new cases diagnosed in the UK every year.

Robert said: “It’s quite unusual for someone of my age to be diagnosed.

“It usually happens to older people in their 70s.”

Thankfully the transplant appears to have been a success and Robert is currently attending Inverclyde Royal once a month for bone strengthening treatment.

He has suffered permanent nerve damage to his feet as a result of the the high-dosage chemotherapy and can’t walk very far as a result.

He told the Tele: “I’m just taking each day as it comes but the transplant has reduced the risk.”

Pamela Kelly, pictured, a senior staff nurse who has helped to care for Robert, said: “He’s a lovely man.

“He’s come through quite a journey and he is looking great.”