A WAR veteran who was given less than one year to live just months after the all-clear hopes he will make it to his tenth wedding anniversary.

Mark Lyle was starting to enjoy life again in September having initially fought off stomach cancer but in March found it had returned, and this time it was terminal.

The 37-year-old and his wife Katarina Sirchich-Lyle, 38, had hoped to start a family in 2017, when he received his first diagnosis, and now the pair are concentrating on spending precious time together.

Mr Lyle, of Bishop Middleham, near Sedgefield, said: “My wife has taken it the worst.

"For me I know I can’t do anything to stop this and I know I’m on a one way journey - and it’s them (family) who will see me get worse.

“I’ve gone to a hospice where I would like to end my time, as I don’t want the last memories of me being in bed ill. In the meantime we’re trying to enjoy ourselves.”

A package driver for delivery company UPS’s Sedgefield depot, Mr Lyle had previously served in the Army for six years, completing two tours in Iraq - one of which was during the war in 2003.

In December 2016 he sought medical help after suffering from chest pain and becoming unable to eat.

The following month he was told he had cancer and began an intensive course of chemotherapy.

In May last year the tumour, which had been growing in his stomach lining for two years, was removed along with his stomach and part of his oesophagus where it had spread.

Mr Lyle underwent more chemotherapy and radiotherapy in August and was soon after told all his scans had come back clear.

“I started to eat again, I started going to the gym twice a week to get a bit of muscle back because I’d lost so much weight, and was starting to enjoy life again,” he said.

“I didn’t have the burden of cancer and I wanted to get back to work in March.”

However, Mr Lyle fell ill again before Christmas and earlier this year was told by doctors the cancer had returned and spread to other organs.

“He said you won’t be here in a year,” added Mr Lyle.

“It’s given me time to sort everything out for when the time comes - anything to help my wife.”

He now hopes to make it to September when he and his wife will celebrate their tenth wedding anniversary.

Work colleagues from UPS have arranged a family fun day in honour of Mr Lyle, in aid of Cancer Research UK, at Sedgefield Cricket Club on Sunday (May 20) at 11am.

Mr Lyle said: “I’m flattered people would do all this under my name. It’s humbling.”

For more information about the fundraiser email jbowes@ups.com