Super-tough Matthew Hawksley has as many lives as a cat and cheated death EIGHT times – after surviving a cliff fall, heart attacks, MRSA, pneumonia and cancer.
Triathlete Matthew, 25, had his first miracle escape after he and a group of friends decided to go for a swim in the sea on a work weekend away.
But he didn’t realise the water was only a metre deep and swan dived off a high pier onto a bed of sharp rocks.
He miraculously survived the smash but shattered the fifth vertebrae in his spine which caused him to have a heart attack as his lungs filled with water.
His life had to be saved FOUR TIMES within 30 minutes by first-aiders on the scene and paramedics who rushed him to hospital.
He awoke from a five week coma and spent months recovering – while also beating life-threatening bouts of MRSA and pneumonia.
Matthew was also back on his feet within months – despite being told he would never walk again.
But just four months after being released from hospital Matthew was diagnosed with testicular cancer and surgeons removed his right testicle.
Resilient Matthew, of Huntingdon, Cambs., has now been given the all-clear – which means he has outsmarted death an incredible NINE times.
He said: “In lots of ways I feel like the unluckiest man I know – but in lots of ways I suppose I’m the luckiest man in Britain.
“But you can’t let yourself down. You have to pick yourself up and work with what you’ve got. I have never really been down or upset. You just have to carry on, I suppose.”
Matthew was working as a welder fabricator and was on a corporate weekend away in Grange, Co. Sligo, in June 2011 when the accident happened.
He said: “There is no doubt I was saved by people who pulled me from the water and who knew exactly what to do.
“By divine co-incidence a nurse and a medical team in the immediate area kept me alive until an ambulance arrived.
“I went into cardiac arrest numerous times that morning. I owe so much to all who tended to me and the support they had.
“I woke up and I was completely paralysed. I could only see black and white shapes and could only communicate by blinking and sticking my tongue out.
“My family was told that it was unlikely I would speak again and I probably would spend my life in a wheel-chair controlled by my chin.
“The realisation that it was possible that I would be paralysed for the rest of my life was very real. Then to get through that and find out I had cancer was a massive blow.”
He was first treated for four days in hospital in Sligo and then spent four weeks in Mater Hospital in Dublin where he had surgery on his spinal cord.
Matthew’s worried family and hairdresser girlfriend Avril Maleham, 20, had to make the decision to go ahead with a risky spinal operation while he was in a five-week coma.
He woke up but was initally told he was likely to need a wheelchair controlled by his chin for life.
But inspirational Matthew defied the doctor’s predictions and just five months after the accident took his first steps.
Matthew also had to battle MRSA and pneumonia which he caught in hospital and later moved into a care home.
While in the care home Matthew noticed there was something wrong with his right testicle and doctors found a cancerous tumour.
Matthew had his right testicle removed and was given the all-clear, but he still attends regular check ups.
The amateur triathlete, who had taken part in a race in Sligo in the days before his tragedy, revisited the scene of his accident last month.
Fighting fit Matthew is now planning to run, swim and cycle in a triathlon in two months in aid of both cancer and spinal cord injury charities.