The former sailor who dressed as a pirate to show he refusal to be bowed by terminal cancer says: ‘I hope that my attitude will be an inspiration to Pompey.’
WHEN swashbuckling Craig Bryden was diagnosed with lung cancer, he decided to look on the positive side and use his chemotherapy sessions as a way to make other people smile.
Navy veteran Craig wore a pirate outfit to show he would not be bowed by cancer – and became an internet sensation with his picture being shared millions of times online.
The 56-year-old went to his first chemotherapy session at the Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham on Friday in the rather unusual attire.
The former navy steward caught a bus to the hospital and sat next to Courtney Jones, who was so inspired by his determination to stay positive that she posted a ‘selfie’ on Facebook which has since been shared around the world.
He said: ‘All the nurses were stopping what they were doing to come out and look at me and there were lots of people waiting for chemotherapy and every one of them had a smile on their face. To me that’s worth more than life. If I can put a smile on someone’s face it will make me feel 10 times better.’
Craig, who lives in Copnor, survived the sinking of HMS Sheffield in the Falklands and spent 20 years in the navy.
He said: ‘I was sunk in the Falklands and then sent to Beirut, after that I was diagnosed with PTSD and went through a dark time. I pulled myself through it. ‘This is a new life for me, and I have enjoyed the life I have had, and still have.
‘It is something that I am living with. Although I have a terminal illness, it is not the end of the world and I plan on being here in 10 years’ time.
‘I hope to be an ambassador of happiness.’
Craig, a plasterer and decorator of Seafield Road, is married to Rae, and has two children – Alistair, 21, and Laura Tate, 22.
His illness was first spotted when he went for an over-55s NHS health check in March, and until that point he had no symptoms apart from a cough.
Now he has been receiving hundreds of messages of support from all over the world and he has been asked to appear at a fundraiser for Macmillan at the Blue Reef Aquarium in Southsea on April 16 and 17.
And he even hopes to go to Portsmouth FC home game against Plymouth on April 16.
Craig, who is originally from Kilmarnock in Scotland and moved to Portsmouth in 1997, said: ‘I’ve always had a soft spot for Portsmouth. I believe that with the right determination and attitude you can conquer everything.
‘I hope that my attitude will be an inspiration to Pompey.’