A WREXHAM martial artist has shared words of encouragement to those undergoing cancer treatment - after beating the condition himself and making plans to return to the ring.

When he was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago, Aaron Aby put his professional career in mixed martial arts on hold.

The 29-year-old, who was born with cystic fibrosis, started to learn MMA aged 16.

After moving to a pro gym in Liverpool and studying sport science in college, he went on to Glyndwr University in Wrexham were he studied sport coaching.

From there he began an amateur career, before turning professional at the MMA Academy in Liverpool.

He also opened his own gym, IPC Wrexham in Gwersyllt, which will have been running for eight years next month.

Throughout his career, in addition to becoming a full-time coach and athlete, Mr Aby has been ranked in the top ten UK MMA fighters - as well as competing in some of the biggest shows in Europe.

He told the Leader he suspected there was a problem when he experienced pain in his back and testicles.

“With the pain I was in,” he said, “I knew something was up.

“I was diagnosed with testicular cancer two years ago in November.

“It had spread to my lymph nodes in my stomach and created a lymph node mass.

“I had chemotherapy - four courses of five days, then another lot of two six-day courses- then two operations.

“The dangerous thing was where the mass was in my stomach - it was where the blood goes to and from the heart.

“There was only one surgeon in the UK who would do the operations for me. After that, in February this year, I was clear.

“It was surreal.”

Mr Aby said the road back to fitness has been gruelling, but he’s thankful it has been quicker than expected.

“They told me it would take a year before I could train again,” he said.

“But I worked my way up faster than expected and got better quicker.

“My lung functions were about 40 per cent, where they’re normally about 80 per cent.

“I started with physio and then got back into lifting and getting strong.

“It was always going to be [difficult] but I kept chipping away at it and now it is like nothing has changed.”

He attributed his speedy recovery to a “positive mindset and hard work” - explaining the management of his cystic fibrosis had made him “a fighter” from a young age.

The condition affects the lungs and digestive system with a thick build-up of mucus, which makes breathing and digestion difficult.

He said: “I like MMA because of the strategy and because it is like a physical and mental test.

“It applies to life - being born with cystic fibrosis was a constant fight.

“It has made it difficult, but I have benefitted from doing football and martial arts. My martial arts have also benefitted from me being a fighter from a young age.”

Mr Aby was due to take part in his first fight since his recovery on October 19 in Manchester, but said his opponent had to pull out meaning the event has been postponed.

He is now hoping it will be rescheduled in November or December and continues to coach and train full time.

Sharing his advice for anyone else who may be going through cancer treatment or diagnosis, he added: “It’s a tough journey and there will be times when it will be hard.

“But you’ve got to keep on fighting.”