John Letts - Cancer Battle

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HE'S THE HORSEMAN THE WHOLE COUNTRY KNOWS...

"My first one was when I won the Melbourne Cup on Piping Lane I went over the line and didn't realize because I had never ridden at Flemington before and it was my first ride at Flemington," said John Letts.

NOT ONLY A LEGEND OF THE TRACK .... HE'S A HOUSEHOLD NAME ON TV ... A INTEGRAL PART OF THE RACE THAT STOPS THE NATION... BUT JOHN LETTS GREATEST RACE HAS BEEN ONE AGAINST TIME .... ONE HE WILL NEVER COMPLETELY KNOW FOR CERTAIN HE'S WON ...

"It had control of me and now I'm going to get control of it," said John Letts.

AMONG HIS FELLOW HORSEMEN, THERE IS NEVER A DULL MOMENT WHEN LETTSY IS AROUND... BUT AT LAST YEAR'S MELBOURNE CUP, LETTSY WAS WONDERING IF IT MIGHT BE HIS LAST.

"It was in there this disease and emotionally it was pretty hard, very, very hard - there were times when I would cry for no reason at all... you get depressed and think all the worse things," said John Letts.

LAST NOVEMBER, HE CONFIDED IN HIS MELBOURNE CUP COLLEAGUES, INCLUDING ACE BROADCASTER BRUCE MCAVANEY THAT HE MAY NOT RIDE AGAIN.

"I've got a problem I said - it's a real problem - I'd love to be back here and say yes, but I don't know and Bruce, who has been very supportive, Channel 7 has been with me every step of the way through this 10.21 when you've got a lot of people supporting you it makes a difference," said John Letts.

THIS TIME HIS OPPONENT WAS WITHIN ... LETTSY HAD PROSTATE CANCER.

"It was in there this disease and emotionally it was pretty hard, very, very hard - there were times when I would cry for no reason at all... you get depressed and think all the worse things. You're dealing with cancers, some are good, some are bad - there are some men who are found too late and will never be saved," said John Letts.

IT WAS A DIFFICULT JOURNEY THAT ALSO TOOK IT'S TOLL ON HIS FAMILY, PARYICULARLY WIFE ANNE...
BUT LETTSY HAD HOPE IN HIS CORNER ... AND LEONARDO ... A REMARKABLE THREE MILLION MEDICAL ROBOT ... THE ONLY ONE IN THE STATE

"It's used for prostate cancer for kidney cancer and bladder cancer - here in Adelaide there is a great and very advanced E.N.T. team doing trans-oral surgery for back of the throat cancers which would normally require intensive care and splitting of the jaw and tracheostomies and things - these people have their cancers cut out and go home tomorrow," said John Letts.

IT SEEMS TOTALLY APPROPRIATE THAT THIS CUTTING EDGE TECHNOLOGY WAS USED TO TACKLE THE CANCER IN JLETTS - AFTER ALL, HIS POST-RACE INTERVIEWS OF HOURSEBACK WERE THE FIRST OF THEIR KIND ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.

"I'd seen photos of it and I thought, Wow, the size of that thing and then little old me and there's all these little feelers that come down and I thought how can someone sit five metres away and operate this," said John Letts.

STEPHEN WALKER IS C.E.O. AT ST ANDREWS HOSPITAL WHERE LEONARDO IS A LIFE SAVER ....

"It's been really busy for us - in fact we don't have enough theatre time at the moment to fit it all in - but clearly, down the track, anything can happen," said John Letts.

NOW INTO HIS REHABILTATION PHASE, JOHN LETTS IS AN ADVOCATE FOR MORE

"He got every bit out, he didn't touch any of the other organs, it was a five-hour operation he got a clean sweep of the prostate - it's completely gone - when I came out he said there is nothing in your body now, I've got everything," said John Letts.

AND THE AGONY OF HIS INFAMOUS INTERVIEW WITH JAPANESE JOCKEY WHO WON THE CUP IN 2006 ... DOESN'T SEEM TO MATTER ANYMORE

"I suppose that would be the most uncomfortable one because as you know he couldn't speak a word of English and I couldn't speak a word of Japanese. That is the one thing out of the Melbourne Cup that I will be remembered for - not being able to speak Japanese," said John Letts.

LETTSY'S ABILITY TO LAUGH AT HIMSELF HAS WON HIM A LEGION OF FANS .. ALL WISHING HIM WELL

"I had a wonderful card sent to me the other day from jockeys that I have met over the Melbourne Cup carnival and interviewed - 2.01 Glen Boss said get back quick, we need you and Banjo ready for autumn," said John Letts.

AND HE'S THE NEW ROLE MODEL FOR THE FIGHT AGAINST PROSTATE CANCER.

"I'm certainly keen to let people know about my experience with it (cancer) I want to bring it to their attention. "Pick up the pen and paper now and write it down - doctor's this week - must do, because if I hadn't done it, who knows, I might not have even made it," said John Letts.

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