IF anyone needed inspirational advice regarding youngsters battling against serious illness then they could well do with a chat with Tim Mills, who hails from Narberth, and has shown terrific resilience after receiving the daunting news that as a fit teenager who loved playing his football and cricket, he had cancer.

“It was a very scary time,” admitted Tim, “but with the total support of my family and friends I have done really well and before Christmas I received the fantastic news that I was out of remission with no sign of it recurring after treatment, which was a pretty good present!”

That family support came from his parents Alison, who was always there when needed, and Aaron, and, like Tim, loved being involved as a player and coach. His older brother Sam (26) is also a good all-round sportsman who has completed the ‘Iron Man Wales 2014’.

Then there’s Tim’s girlfriend Rachel Thomas, who has been there through thick and thin during his illness and joined forces with Alison in raising over £10,000 for the Teenage Cancer Trust.

Tim had felt well as he played sport regularly but started to feel out of breath and eventually, when he was taking part in the ‘Ocean Lava’ Half Iron Man race around the Fishguard area that he started to struggle.

“I managed to complete the 1.2mile swim around the breakwater in Goodwick, the 56 miles of cycling that took in the Fishguard, Mathry, St Davids and then back to Goodwick before a four-lap run of 13.1 miles around Fishguard/Goodwick – but it was all a bit of struggle almost from the outset.

“To be honest I was relieved to complete the challenge but realised that something was up and eventually went to hospital for tests, which later revealed that I had acute lymphoblastic lymphoma.

“The specialist told me that it was cancer of the lymph glands and that a large tumour in my chest would have to be removed before I could start chemotherapy – and I can’t describe how I felt, other than I knew I had to fight it with all my might.

“My family were brilliant and also helped me through eight months of chemotherapy, which weren’t brilliant,” said Tim with typical understatement!

It is great to report that one of Tim’s main focusses during his rehab has been to help raise funds for charity and in April he continues that aim as he runs for ’The Teenage Cancer Trust’ in the London Marathon, which is the major beneficiary of the marathon for 2018.

“I ran in the Llanelli Half Marathon on February, starting and ending at Parc y Scarlets after a flat run across to the sea front after previous races at Cardiff, Swansea, Narberth, and the Preselis, with a best time of 1 hour, 42 minutes and 56 seconds.

“In Llanelli I had promised a friend to try and help him break two hours and we were delighted to finish with two minutes and 33 seconds in hand.

But Tim was even more delighted by the fact that with a month to go he is over half way towards a target of £2,000 for the London Marathon.

“I plan to cycle to Ireland aboard the Fishguard/Rosslare Ferry, using a static training machine, with my brother Sam cycling back across the Irish Sea to give me support, as usual.

“We also have a coffee morning with Ann and John at the RAOB Club in Narberth, plus a ‘Guess the Time’ competition for my marathon run – and other events in the pipeline."

Tim is already deep into his planned training session for the London Marathon with regular evening runs on the roads around his home and longer runs at the weekends.

“At the moment I’ve built up to a distance of 15.5 miles so I’m confident that by April I’ll be raring to go.”

Tim missed out in football for over two years whilst he was on the road to recovery, after setting out as a nipper with the Narberth Junior Football teams coached by Ashley Williams, and he stayed their throughout, apart from one short spell at Saundersfoot.

“When I moved into senior football I played as a winger in the Narberth teams managed by Nigel ‘Tommy’ Thomas before a spell with Lawrenny; a club packed with characters as players and supporters.

“But I moved back to live in Narberth before Christmas I rejoined The Bluebirds and I was made very welcome by the club, with many of my social group still playing there, and I’m enjoying my involvement with the second team coached by Liam Phillips and Dalis Galvin.”

Tim also started out in cricket at Narberth as someone who loved to try and bowl fast, as well as enjoying his batting and fielding to the full – but played for Lawrenny during his footballing time at the club.

“It was great fun and I think that all my sport since I was taken ill has helped me with my recovery – although whether I play the game this season is undecided yet!”

Part of that indecision comes from Tim’s love of challenging runs and in May he is already registered to run in the ‘Preseli Beast’ race, which is actually a tough, scenic and exciting circular marked off-road/fell running race set in the heart of the Preseli Hills, in North Pembrokeshire, “It takes place on the 12th May and covers 24 miles after starting and finishing in Maenclochog, covering wooded paths, fells and climbs in the Preseli Hills that total 4,700 feet, the equivalent of 1.5 times up Snowdon!

“As well as climbing Foel Cwmcerwyn, the highest peak in the Preselis, there is Carn Ingli to negotiate and some demanding running through the Gwaun Valley – so it should be in interesting run,” said Tim with a chuckle!

Richard Howell, a family friend who coached Tim in cricket as a youngster, told us, “Tim and his family are hugely respected in Narberth and he is a smashing lad who deserves enormous credit in fighting his illness.”

We could pay Tim Mills no higher compliment and we wish this modest and pleasant young man every success because he provides a beacon light for others with serious illnesses – and if anyone wanted to sponsor his efforts for ‘The Teenage Cancer Trust’ they could find out more about Tim on social media and sponsor a very deserving charity!