A YORK grandfather has told of how he has overcome cancer twice to become a karate champion.
Jesper Sorensen, 50, from Heworth, underwent a year of treatment for throat cancer, which saw him lose nearly half his body weight and suffer depression.
But after taking his son Daniel to karate classes he decided to attend a class himself and within two-and-a-half years had become a black belt.
Despite being diagnosed with cancer for a second time last year and undergoing an operation, Jesper was back at training within six weeks and has since won a major competition for his outstanding skills.
The father-of-three said the support of his wife Lydia and being able to focus on karate has been invaluable to his recovery.
He said: "It makes you feel good but it's still hard work, especially when you get to my age - you have to work twice as hard as you would in your twenties.
"Most people will get cancer at some point but it does not mean your life stops. With the right support and if you are one of the survivors you will go on to do things afterwards.
"My thought was, let's deal with it and move on - it's not a death sentence, you can move on. There have been a lot of aches and pains but I think it's about setting yourself a target and working towards it. If you don't have target you become dormant."
Jesper was diagnosed with cancer of the tonsils in 2006 and following lengthy treatment his weight plummeted from 85kg to 50kg.
He had learned a different style of karate in his early twenties while living in Denmark and after taking his son Daniel, now 12, to lessons with York Karate Academy, he decided to go along himself.
His progress was so astonishing that Jesper achieved every belt he went for in one go - on one occasion taking three grades at a time - before becoming a black belt in December 2011.
In January last year, the catering manager was diagnosed with prostate cancer and underwent an operation but within six weeks he returned to his training.
Jesper has now achieved his 2nd Dan - the second grade of black belt - and in March took first place in the senior black belt category in a major competition in Liverpool.
Paul Mendham, chief instructor of York Karate Academy, said : “I'm so glad that Danish/Anglo relationships are much friendlier than a few centuries ago as I can really understand why the Vikings became infamous for their ferocity in battle if Jesper's spirit and fortitude is anything to go by.
"He has an overwhelmingly enthusiastic attitude on life that rubs off on the rest of our members in a very positive way. And as Jesper often says to them, 'come on guys, if I can do it, anyone can.'”