A BETHESDA couple say there is “light at the end of the cancer tunnel” and hope their story will be an inspiration to others.

Kung Fu instructor and cafe owner Jake Fitzpatrick has become the first man in Wales to gain a fifth dan in the Wu Shu Kwan martial art discipline.

His achievement is even more remarkable as sixty-three year-old Jake was recently treated for stage four throat cancer.

North Wales Chronicle:

The Fitzpatrick family Jake, Jade, James and Elena. Picture: Kerry Roberts

Just as he was recovering from his two-year ordeal, his wife Elena, who is 47, was diagnosed last August with an extremely rare brain tumour affecting only one in 1.3million people.

The couple, who have run Fitzpatrick’s cafe, in Bethesda, for the past 21 years, both teach Wu Shu Kwan, at Treborth Community Centre.

Elena has also achieved her grade three level black belt, and their son James, and daughter Jade, are both first degree black belt holders.

Although Elena’s fight goes on - she still has to be checked to make sure her illness is being kept at bay - Jake’s cancer is now in remission.

Elena said: “I just thought I had tinnitus in my ear, but it was a rare tumour vibrating. a nerve that I could hear. You never think something like that is going to be cancer, especially not one that only one in 1.3million get. We couldn’t believe that I got it just after Jake’s illness.

“But you can’t let it get you down and you have got to stay positive, and just keep going.”

Jake added “When you think your life is over, it makes you want to use the time you have left.

“But there is light at the end of the tunnel after cancer.”

A fighting spirit has helped the couple get through their battles with cancer.

They say dedication to their hobby Wu Shu Kwan, a type of Kung Fu, has helped them through their ordeal.

Jake said: “We have both been though some really dire times together but it was having the Wu Shu Kwan to focus on, something that wasn’t the cancer, that gave us something to aim for and helped keep us going.”

Now, despite the setbacks, after devoting 35 years of his life to Wu Shu Kwan Jake has become the only person in Wales to achieve a fifth level blackbelt - “fifth dan” - the highest grading in Wu Shu Kwan, a Shaolin Temple style self defensive fighting style.

Elena, has also achieved a third level black belt and their children Jade, 21, and James, 16, are also first degree black belts.

The couple, who are both instructors in Wu Shu Kwan, at Tregarth Community Centre, have also run Fitzpatrick’s cafe in Bethesda for the past 21 years.

Elena said: "We had to keep going, we had our kids, the cafe to run. But the Wu Shu Kwan helped keep us focused.” 

"But you can’t let it get you down and you have just got to stay positive.”

Jake added: "When you think your life is over, it makes you look at what is important, and use the time you have left. We decided to make the most of our situation.

"For me to get the fifth dan, it was amazing. There is light at the end of the tunnel after cancer.”