WHEN Charlie Leach was diagnosed with cancer his immediate thought was that he was going to die.

He said: “It is a very traumatic word to hear “cancer,” he said.

“It has been quite tough, but then after a couple of weeks you sort of think it is not going to make it better being sad about it.”

Seventeen-year-old Charlie fell ill with liposarcoma in April, a cancer of the fat cells that affects only 2.5 people in every million.

He said: “The first thing going through your head is that you are going to die.”

The teenager, from Broadway Close in Witney, had to put on hold his dream of becoming a Formula 1 engineer to concentrate on getting better.

He underwent 25 days of intensive radiotherapy treatment –10 minutes every morning for five weeks, with only the weekends as a break.

Doctors told Charlie his was a “medium risk” cancer but said it was of a type which could return in the future.

He said: “My family has been trying to keep me strong by saying ‘do not put your energy into being upset, put it into getting better’.

“Without their support it would have been a lot harder. They have comforted me and told me I am going to be the lucky one.”

Last Wednesday Charlie had an operation to remove the tumour in his right hip.

He said: “I am on crutches now and finding it hard to walk around but it is getting better.

“I find out around December or January whether I am definitely all cleared up.”

But he added: “Although they got it all out, I still have 10 years of check-ups to go through.”

Charlie is now set to return to Oxford and Cherwell Valley College in Bicester this week to restart a motor sport engineering diploma.

He later hopes to go on to Oxford Brookes University for a four-year motor sports degree.

He had to put his studies on hold for about three month, but is now more focused on his dream than ever.

He said: “If anything, this has made me more determined to achieve what I want to do.”

Two weeks ago, Charlie visited race circuit Silverstone, in Northamptonshire, and met British Formula 3 racing driver Oli Webb.

The event was put together by Starlight Children’s Foundation, which organises wishes for seriously or terminally ill youngsters.

Mr Webb said: “It was great to meet Charlie, who, in spite of everything that he is going through, is a very determined young man. He is incredibly inspirational.”

Starlight is now hoping to organise for Charlie to meet his hero, British Formula 1 racing driver Lewis Hamilton.

Charlie said: “Lewis Hamilton is my idol.

“Meeting him would be the best day ever.”