After booking in and having it removed he aimed to return back to his normal life a months later. Unfortunately the pain didn’t go away and he had to return to his doctor, who didn’t believe it warranted an x-ray - luckily he searched for a second opinion and they found the tumour had almost doubled in size.
“Another trip to the specialist hospital in London and another operation is booked. I know the drill now so felt very relaxed going in to the operation. I have the operation and as soon as I came round I said I couldn't feel my left leg from the knee down, the surgeon said it's just bruising and will settle and the feeling will come back.” Rob said about the second operation.
“Im sent home, after around 6 weeks the feeling hadn't come back and it transpired that the surgeon severed the nerves in my leg and the feeling won't come back. Im pretty distraught by this and felt my sporting endeavours are over as I'm now disabled and using crutches full time.”
Imagine hearing that you couldn’t play the sport you love anymore? Rob and Carla didn’t give up there though, Carla saw that the Dorset disability county team are trialing players for the 2014 season - in which Rob was picked!
Rob batted at number 4 and got a good amount of runs and wickets before things went from bad to worse.
“The next ball came in on to my legs, I clip the ball off my hips and I end up in a heap on the floor, then the pain hits me, I scream in agony, I look down and my leg is bent and twisted.” Rob spoke.
“The worst thing about it is my little boy Harry witnessed the whole thing, he was only 3 and it scared him for a long time, it broke my heart. I had to have a huge operation to have my leg rebuilt with pins, plates, screws and ties. After the operation the pain is immense but I'm assured it will settle down.”
Unfortunately again, the pain didn’t subside. Robs leg was in constant pain and would give way randomly for years before in July 2017 he and his wife decided that was it - he wanted his leg amputated.
“In July 2017 I decided I had had enough of this pain and I booked in to see my NHS surgeon.
I said to my wife Carla what I wanted and she was 100% behind me, she saw the pain and the fact I couldn't function any more, the medication had changed me, I wasn't this happy go lucky man any more, I was just a shell of my former self.” Rob continued.
He didn’t meet the criteria for the NHS to amputate his leg, so he had to raise the money himself.
“I tell my wife what he said and I said I wanted to find the money and get it done privately. She mentioned a crowd funding page so I look in to it. I found out the cost of the operation which was £15k so I get to work writing my story. I set up a go fund me page In September and I share it about on social media. I get up to £2k from family and friends.”
Rob’s family and friends rally around him but he became worried he wouldn’t reach the 15k needed. That was until The Jeremy Vine Show heard about his plea and asked him to come on the show.
“While on the show we talk openly about my story and he tells the listeners the link of my go fund me. We finish the interview and I put the phone down. My phone was constantly buzzing, I look at it and I see 100s of notifications on my go find me page.” Rob gleamed about.
“I look at the total and I'm up to £12k, in the space of 5 mins I went from £2k to £12k, you could have scraped me up off the floor. I sat down and I cried, this was actually becoming a reality. I ring my wife all emotional and tell her.”
He pulls together the money and his x-rays and visits the Spire hospital in Southampton, where the doctor tells him there is nothing more that can be done for his leg, it has to come off. At this point Rob broke down at the fact someone was finally listening to him.
Rob booked the operation for 21st March 2018, but at this point was still short.
“My good friend Craig Rochford did a fund raiser and batted constantly for 24 hours to raise the rest. Im in debt with Craig for the rest of my life for what he did for me.”
After the surgery Rob felt he could finally restart his life, and with the constant support of his wife and family he finally started to feel like himself again.
Rob gave us a week by week breakdown of how the following 10 weeks played out:
“I was back driving after a week (I have an automatic car) and I was pretty independent by week 2.
Week by week I was getting stronger, by week 3 I was off to town and feeling amazing, I'd also had my staples out, all 82 of them, that was painful.”
“On week 4 we went to Portsmouth Harbour and i spotted a climbing wall, I nudged Carla and said in a jokey way I should have a go at that! Then some woman looked me up and down and said I wouldn't get a foot off the floor, I took that as a challenge, I hopped over, asked if I can have a go, he said no problem, so I got all the way to the top with one leg, I abseiled down, unhooked myself and winked at the woman who walked off rather quickly.”
“On week 6 I met my prosthetic guy Luke who took measurements, we picked a leg (not weird at all) and got the ball rolling on my new leg. Week 9 I picked my prosthetic leg up, took it home and had a practice walk then on week 10 I was back on the cricket field with middlesex disability county cricket club, and I was named captain. Completely blown away.”
After hearing such an inspirational story and such drive to get to where he has after such horrible luck I had to know what was his inspiration.
“My inspiration to have all this done was that I wanted to be a proper father to my 2 children and a husband that my wife deserves. I was fed up of saying no to them when they wanted to play. My family are my world and my everything, they are my inspiration.”
For me that sums him up, doing everything for everyone, even now wanting to spread a message of positivity and wanting to inspire others. It would be so easy to lose his positive mindset after such a struggle, but he’s only come out of the other side stronger - sentiments he seemed to echo.
“People ask me how did I recover so quickly, the only thing I can say I that I have a very positive mind. I won't let things get me down. My wife said to my surgeon that the old Rob is back, and I am. I have always been very positive and happy.”
“I want my story to go as far and wide as possible, I want to help others who may be struggling with an amputation or a disability, I want them to look at my story and say if he can do it, so can I.”
Being so passionate about cricket, we spoke about his cricketing career.
“I've always played a reasonable standard of cricket, mostly in 1st teams. I've played against pros many times which I love as I can take a lot from them.”
“I think my 1st team days are over, I'm now playing league cricket on a Saturday for fun with friends. I take my middlesex disability games very seriously and I'm looking forward to the 2019 season, its going to be a great year for us. Watch this space.”
“Middlesex are my cricket family and as a family they have supported me in every step of the way, Mike Wilson who is the disability manager of middlesex has been nothing short of amazing and I owe him a great deal of gratitude.”
“Im not going to retire until I've played a season with my son Harry, he's only 7 so I have a while yet.”
After an unbelievable journey I had to know what Rob Franks had planned next.
“I have a few things bubbling away. I'm writing a book about my journey. I want to hit my cricket hard in 2019 and help both my club and county to reach the potential that they both have.”
“I want to coach Harry to be the best player he can possibly be. I have registered with an acting agency and have already filmed for a very popular BBC TV program and its going out in Oct.”
“Most of all I want to make up the last 7 years to my family and do all the things we couldn't do before.”