A COURAGEOUS dad who suffers from MS has thanked the nurses and doctors at Inverclyde Royal who supported him through his battle against cancer.

Derek Noble says the hospital staff helped him to keep a positive outlook as he coped with both multiple sclerosis and a devastating diagnosis of lymphoma.

The 53-year-old, a devoted husband, father and granddad, underwent six courses of chemotherapy and at one point became seriously unwell due to having a low white blood cell count.

But thanks to the terrific care he received locally, Derek recovered and is now in remission.

Derek said: "I was diagnosed with B cell lymphoma.

"My doctor explained that they grade the cancer from one to 10, with 10 being the most severe.

"I was told that I had grade 10 - but the doctor just turned round and said 'it's treatable'.

"That was on the Monday and on the Thursday I had started chemotherapy so I didn't have time to think about it.

"The staff at F South at the IRH were brilliant."

Derek, who lives with his with wife Pauline, 49, was just 23 and a regular hill-walker and climber when he was diagnosed with MS.

But he has never let the condition hold him back or get him down despite experiencing weakness and pins and needles down the right side of his body.

He said: "My GP Dr Wright told me that my mum was worried because I was dropping things like cups and sent me to the Southern General and I was diagnosed.

"We had a discussion and they told me that less than one per cent of the population have MS and that less than one per cent get full blown MS.

"Having MS didn't affect my day-to-day life.

"People talk about the glass being half empty of half full but my glass is 95 per cent full."

Back in April this year Derek's world was turned upside down when he was diagnosed with cancer.

His wife Pauline said: "Derek said he had a sore shoulder.

"He never complains so I though he should go and get it checked out.

"As a precaution a young doctor wanted Derek to get a scan because of his history of blood clots, and kept him in as he had lost weight."

Derek underwent a CT scan and a biopsy of his spleen before he was diagnosed with cancer on April 9.

He said: "They keep on saying that one in three people get cancer but it was still a complete and utter shock."

Derek immediately started six courses of chemotherapy over an 18 week period at F South, the oncology ward at the IRH.

He said: "I had been to the ward with my mum who was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin lymphoma so I knew a lot of the staff."

Pauline added: "It was a godsend that Derek's treatment was up at F South as it's on our doorstep.

"I didn't need to travel somewhere else because that would've had a major impact on both us and our family.

"As much as it's a cancer ward and there's so much going on, the atmosphere is so relaxing and you hear a lot of laughter on that ward.

"I remember the first day I went in I was terrified but by the end of it I was sitting chatting to people and we would offer each other cups of tea.

"There's camaraderie amongst everyone."

During Derek's illness he and Pauline had a wedding blessing at The Albany, conducted by Derek's school friend James Petticrew.

Pauline said: "We knew Derek was ill but we didn't want to think about what was coming, we just wanted to celebrate.

"It was emotional but it was a good way to bring our family and friends together."

The day after the blessing, Derek was diagnosed with neutropenia, low numbers of infection-fighting cells in the blood.

He spent nine days in the Royal Alexandra Hospital but thankfully recovered.

Derek said that the hardest time throughout his illness was the anxious wait to find out if the treatment had worked.

Last month, Derek and his family were given the news that they had been desperately waiting for.

Derek said: "The doctor told me I am officially in remission.

"It was a massive relief."

Derek will have to wait another two years until he gets the all clear but says he has a new outlook on life.

He said: "Before you worry about everything else but this puts everything into perspective."

The couple say they will be forever grateful to the staff who helped Derek and are very thankful to Jacqueline Coyle, welfare rights officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, and Alison at Inverclyde Carers' Centre.

They are also keen to thank their family, friends and neighbours.