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First Dates star reveals he is battling cancer

The bartender made famous for being on Channel 4’s First Dates has revealed he is battling bowel cancer.

Merlin Griffiths was diagnosed six weeks ago and was told he has a 75 per cent chance of living beyond five years.

The 46 year old, speaking exclusively to The Mirror, said “I won’t let it get the better of me” and said he has a 4.5cm Stage 3 tumour, which he describes as “looking like an alien”.

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Describing the moment he had to tell his seven-year-old daughter Alix, he told the Sunday Mirror : “I said, ‘Dad’s got cancer’. She said, ‘Is that bad, Dad?’

“I said, ‘Yes, it’s very serious but I think it should be OK. Modern medicine’s great and if anything changes I’ll let you know.’

“She understands that people can die but I told her cancer comes in different varieties and in different ways too – and that many people come through it.”

Merlin started getting symptoms in June but assumed it was related to some scar tissue he had on his stomach as a result of a car accident.

He said: “I’ve shed a tear in private. But you can choose ‘to do’ or ‘not to do’. I chose to lead my life as normal, to stick to the facts about it, and to keep putting one step in front of the other.”

Merlin, originally from Cheltenham, Gloucs, decided to speak out about his diagnosis before he appears on Stand Up to Cancer Live next month.

Merlin Griffiths who is the barman from Channel 4’s First Dates.

He also described how he told his partner Lucile, 40, a week before he told colleagues on First Dates.

“Lucile was working the day I got my diagnosis. I called her in the car on the way home from the hospital.

“I said, ‘Listen sweetie, we’ve found out what it is. It’s a malignant tumour and I need chemo.

“Of course she was incredibly upset. A week later I called some close friends,” he said.

He said he was “terrified” by what he has learned for himself since getting the diagnosis at Northampton General Hospital.

He says: “I started looking on NHS websites. I knew medical Google could be a minefield so I avoided that.

“It was still pretty scary. There were plenty of conditions that were lifelong.

“When I saw my tumour on a screen I could see this big, alien-like fleshy constriction. The doctors said, ‘It looks like a malignant tumour’. I knew what that meant – it was still alive

He looked on trusted websites such as Macmillan Cancer Support to try to figure out his chances.

He says: “It was terrifying. Best case scenario, I’d get lifelong remission. Worst, I’d have a 14% five-year outlook.”

He first saw a change in his bowel habits in June and by July the bloating and nausea were so severe he went to A&E at Horton General Hospital in Oxfordshire.

But he admits: “It didn’t cross my mind it could be cancer.”

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