LIVING life to the full, Eddie Mitchell hopes his fight against cancer can inspire others to believe that being diagnosed with the disease is not the end.
Diagnosed with terminal multiple myeloma, Eddie was originally given a maximum of 3-5 years to live.
Twelve years on, the retired painter and decorator believes he is one of the longest surviving patients in the north of Scotland with the condition.
Eddie, who lives in Fochabers with his wife Pat, takes each day as it comes and admits his "stubborn" attitude to the disease, allied to the support of his wife and medical advances, are the reasons he is still here and looking forward to celebrating his 65th birthday next month.
Every time cancer knocks him down, Eddie bounces back, and he has just completed his fourth prolonged chemotherapy treatment after periods in remission. He has also had two stem cell transplants.
"I feel blessed and I am very happy," he said. "Just because you have cancer it doesn’t mean it is the end of the world.
"I hope my story gives people encouragement and hope. Life doesn’t stop because of cancer; it is just a different kind of life you have got to adjust to.
"I am thankful every time I wake up in the morning. I didn’t expect to see my 60th birthday but next month I will be 65 and I hope to see my 70th birthday."
Eddie has kept strong by remaining active and busy, and his next challenge is to record his cancer journey in a book he hopes to publish online.
Cancer is not the end, just the start of a new journey, he adds, and by penning his story, he hopes to provide others with inspiration.
He is in no doubt that without the support of his wife Pat – the couple have been together 24 years and married for the last 18 years – he would not be here and is dedicating the book to her.
Eddie is giving himself the rest of 2014 to finish the story and hopes to raise money for charity with the finished work.
However, that is not the main motivation for writing the book; simply a desire to help others and show that you can live life to the full after a cancer diagnosis.
A keen wildlife painter from his youth, Eddie has taught himself to paint landscapes since being diagnosed with cancer and has produced over 100 paintings, most of which have been given to friends and family.
He is also hoping to teach himself guitar and still maintains an avid passion for watching and studying wildlife which he has had since his childhood days.
Eddie, who also served 10 years in the RAF as a survival equipment specialist, first started having problems with his back in February 2002.
Initially thought to possibly be a hernia or gallstones, Eddie had to give up work and moved from Elgin to Rothes. It was his local GP there who started the process which led to a cancer diagnosis.
Eddie has endured long spells in hospital over the last 12 years for regular treatment, none more frightening than in 2005 when he fell at home and broke his back.
His hospitalisation then turned out to be a blessing as within days of being admitted he developed two conditions; fecal vomiting and deep vein thrombosis, which may have killed him had he still been at home.
The grandfather of two has tried to remain positive over the last 12 years and says his refusal to lie down to the condition has been key.
He paid tribute to all the medical treatment he has received over the years and the unstinting faith of his wife Pat, who had to give up her job in an old folks’ care home to look after him.
Pat said: "It is great that he is still with me. Sometimes when he has bad days it can be difficult. There were a lot of bad days after he was diagnosed.
"It is magic that he is still here and that is because he is so stubborn."
Eddie takes each day as it comes and is determined to keep fighting.
"I spoke to my sister, who is ward sister of haematology at a hospital in Kirkcaldy and she says I am one of the longest surviving patients she has known of. I also spoke to one of the sisters in Aberdeen and she had only known of one other person who has lived more than 10 years."