Popular SW sports trainer vows to fight on

Headshot of Mitchell Woodcock
Mitchell WoodcockSouth Western Times
Pete Stokes and his Jodie Cross are in high spirits despite Stokes battling terminal cancer for the past six months.
Camera IconPete Stokes and his Jodie Cross are in high spirits despite Stokes battling terminal cancer for the past six months. Credit: Jon Gellweiler / South Western Times

Bunbury boxing coach Pete Stokes is in the biggest fight of his life as he continues his battle with terminal cancer.

The 45-year-old was diagnosed with B-Cell aggressive lymphoma on May 11 and has since had more than 16 hours of surgery.

Stokes is a strength and conditioning coach and owner of Denning Boxing Gym and has worked with a number of world-class athletes including Lauren Reynolds and Lyn Ventris and is behind Nathaniel May’s bid to claim a world featherweight boxing title.

Stokes has had two major surgeries in 11 weeks, which doctors hope will give him more time with his fiancee Jodie Cross, three children and his athletes.

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“They have removed lymph nodes and massive tumours from the side of my throat and jaw,” he told the South Western Times.

“They removed most of the right side of my neck and went down into my chest.

“It was taken out from under my eye and face and from my temple to the back of my head.

“Unfortunately it is terminal and you cannot beat it.

“They said if I didn’t have surgery I would only have about six months to live.

“There was one guy who lasted three years with this cancer and the double transplant, while the rest lasted about three to six months.”

Stokes said the cancer was caused by the immune suppressant medication he is on from a double-transplant he had nearly five years ago, when his kidney and pancreas were replaced due to his diabetes.

The same medication stops him from being able to have chemotherapy, which would help battle the cancer.

“I had kidney failure and was a diabetic all my life,” he said.

“Because I had been fit all my life, they decided to give me a double – the kidney and the pancreas – to give me a new start.

“It went well besides the side-effects of the medication and this (the cancer) is one of the side-effects and I am one of the unlucky few it has happened too,” he said.

Cross said the the past six years had been a “hard road”.

“Pete just hasn’t caught a break, it’s been one thing after another,” she said.

“The last five months have been tiring, running a busy business, a household and looking after and being there for Pete, you just have to keep going and pushing through, I can’t give up.

“I look at Pete and everything he goes through on a daily basis and how he just keeps fighting and I think to myself I can’t give up.

“He is such a strong person. Most people would be recovering at home, but not Pete he is straight back to our business and doing what he loves. I think it keeps him going.

“It absolutely breaks my heart watching him go through this, I wish I could just take it all away.”

Stokes said all the surgery and medication had left him tired, but the determined ex-boxer wants to continue to push through, with being in the corner of protegee Nathaniel “Cheeky” May for his fight on December 13 Stokes’ next goal.

“Even though you are tired, it inspires to keep me going,” he said.

Stokes credited Cross for her commitment and love which has helped him over the past five years.

“She hasn’t left my side once,” he said.

“She flew to Sydney when I had the double transplant.

“She was commuting to Sydney from Perth probably five times in those seven weeks.

“And she has been fighting by my side since I got this.”

After May’s next fight on December 13, Stokes will return home for radiotherapy, taking the next step in the battle.

“I will keep fighting until I can fight no longer,” he said.

“I don’t see any world titles on the wall yet, so until I have a couple of them up there I am not going to give up.”

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