Barry Sheene died peacefully in hospital yesterday, March 10, after an eight-month battle against cancer of the oesophagus and upper stomach.
The 52-year-old 1976 and 1977 world 500 champion leaves wife Stephanie and teenage children Sidonie and Freddie.
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Sources close to the British racing legend confirmed that his condition had deteriorated rapidly over the last two weeks. Close family members and friends had flown to Australia to be at his side once it became clear that his health was worsening.
When MCN last spoke to Sheene earlier this month, he confirmed that he was finding it increasingly difficult to eat and that he was feeling ill more frequently. And although he defiantly vowed to fight on and beat what he'd always called this "pain in the arse cancer", tragically for his hundreds of thousands of fans the disease was just too aggressive.
Sheene's battle with cancer began last summer when he started to find it difficult to swallow his food. He also had to drink a lot of water to help him digest his meals.
According to close friends he'd only visited doctors because he believed it was just a sore throat problem he'd been unable to shake off.
That was back in July, and he made his annual trip to race in the International Classic double header on a Manx Norton at Donington Park in what is a support race for the British GP.
Unbeknown to tens of thousands of fans, Sheene had visited England while awaiting test results to find out whether he was suffering from cancer.
On his return, he was told the terrible news that he was suffering from double cancer. But with his typical sense of humour Sheene only said he was more pissed off at the thought of missing the Goodwood Revival meeting.
He did return in September to the home shores that he quit 16 years ago, to take part in the event, pledging: "I'm not going to let f***ing cancer get in the way of me enjoying myself."
Almost immediately after his diagnosis, Sheene threw himself into a punishing series of natural remedies after he'd decided against any surgery.
He'd told MCN in early September: "I'm not going to be fighting this in the conventional way. I won't subject my body to chemotherapy. I have made a decision about not doing chemo and that's it. I'm putting my faith in the natural way. To me its poison, and I'm not going to poison my body."
The first course of alternative treatment he tried was a radical diet regime devised by Austrian natural healer Rudolf Breuss.
It involved Sheene fasting for the first three weeks as Breuss' theory was based on the fact that cancer feeds and grows on protein. For those three week, Sheene could eat vegetable juice that included organically grown carrots and Chinese radish. During that period he lost 5kg in weight before going on a low-alkaline diet.
His next public appearance came in October when Sheene was persuaded to visit the Australian GP at Phillip Island.
He'd flown there with son Freddie, and despite looking somewhat gaunt he was mobbed by well-wishers – including world champ Valentino Rossi.
It was at that time that Sheene first confirmed he had turned to God to help him fight the disease.
"I think if there is any way I can get over this, it's because of God. I've never gone around waving bibles at people, but I believe. I've had some really bad accidents in my career and I got over them. I don't consider it just luck that I didn't get killed."
He also revealed at the race that he'd undergone further treatments in Mexico and Kuala Lumpur.
In late November, Sheene vowed again to leave no stone unturned in his fight and revealed he was in the middle of another course of treatment called radio wave therapy.
He was attending a specialist centre in Perth run by British doctor and cancer expert Dr John Holt.
The course, which lasted for three weeks, involved Sheene being intravenously injected once a day between Monday and Friday with a glucose-blocking agent. He had a line inserted in his chest for the duration to make the course of injections more bearable.
The next stage then involved focusing Ultra High Frequency radio waves on his body. Unlike conventional radiotherapy, which uses different frequency of radiation. UHF waves can't be directed in a concentrated beam and Sheene described the experience as like "being in a mircowave."
Sheene had gone for the radiowave treatment because glucose is the only energy source that cancer has for its cells to divide and multiply. The UHF waves heat these cells, making some or all temporarily inactive so they can be starved of energy by the glucose blocking agents.
Sheene admitted at the time that the sessions left him feeling tired and lethargic, and a substance included in the glucose-blocking agent made him feel sick for about an hour after the daily injections.
In the initial stages of the treatment Sheene was given reasons to be optimistic. He'd come through a trial period before waiting a month to find out if it was beneficial to carry on. Doctors gave him the good news that further treatment would be worthwhile, and once completed he would have to undergo a further six weeks of waiting to find out if his body was responding.
Although it was claimed that fewer than 10 per cent of people fail to respond to UHF therapy, sadly Sheene fell into the minority. In late January he was told that the therapy had had little affect and it wasn't worth continuing with further courses.
Although many considered it a massive setback for Sheene, he didn't see it that way and told MCN in another exclusive interview that he had "not given up hope" and he wasn't on his "last legs yet."
Earlier this month Sheene said: "I have to admit that I'm not feeling particularly great at the moment. I just permanently feel sick. I've been feeling like this pretty much since the middle of November, and I can tell you that feeling sick 24 hours a day is not pleasant."
He added: "I don't see the radiowave therapy as not being a success because it was something I had to try. I’m not looking at this as a major setback."
Just days after that last interview with MCN, Sheene's condition began to worsen, and friends said that he was still unable to eat and was spending more of his time in bed asleep.
He had planned to investigate further alternative treatments in his bid to beat the disease, but sadly time in the greatest race of his life was not on his side.
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