'I was born a fighter and will fight this': Footballers' Wives and The Bill actor Ben Richards, 39, battling cancer

By Caroline Thain

His acting career has blossomed, but behind the scenes Ben Richards has had a tough few years.

Now, in the latest heartbreak for his family, the Footballers' Wives star has revealed he is battling cancer.

The 39-year-old took to his Twitter page with the news at the end of last month.

He wrote: 'After getting scariest news yesterday, I have to now postpone my LA adventure for at least six months. I was born a fighter and will fight this.'

Days later, the star, who played Bruno Milligan in the hit TV series, wrote: 'Great meeting with oncologist today, lovely guy, v. positive, I was terrified he’d give me bad news.'

Mr Richards then thanked his wife Helen Richards, 37, calling her a 'rock by my side.'

After the appointment he told his 8,576 Twitter fans: 'Yep, time to battle the big C. Prognosis is good gang and should kick this into touch in about six months, well this should be a different journey xx'.

Mr Richards lives with wife and pet Maltese Terrier, Benson, in St Albans.

The couple have been blighted by tragedy after losing four babies, each still born due to a rare condition, since they married in 2003.

Heartbreak: Mr Richards and wife Helen have been blighted by tragedy after losing four babies, each still born due to a rare condition, since 2003

Tough: Mr Richards, right, who also played Bruno Milligan in Footballers' Wives, Tweeted that it was 'time to battle the big C' after a visit to an oncologist

In 2008 Mr Richards, told Hello Magazine: 'We’ve had a terrible time, but I’ve had
incredible support. We’re in limbo as far as having a family goes. Hopefully in the future it’s something we can do, there are different options to look at.'

Of his cancer revelation, Mrs Richards tweeted: 'could life be any crueller right now?' adding that she keeps hoping to be slapped in the face with a wet fish and told it’s all a big joke.

The couple managed to get away to Valencia, Spain, last week, joking on Twitter about 'dot tattoos', referring to a procedure involving marking the skin for radiotherapy.

Bad news: Mr Richards took to Twitter to tell his 8,576 fans about the news and before vowing to fight the disease

Mr Richards, who also starred as PC Nate Roberts in The Bill and Justin in Holby City, has not revealed which type of cancer he is suffering from, but has supported several cancer charities for years, including Teenage Cancer Trust.

He is also a patron of the Chestnut Tree Hospice and ran 10k for Cancer Research UK in 2009.

Well-wishers left messages of support on The Bill fan website, The Billaton.

One read: 'I pray for his quick recovery and wish him well in his fight against this illness. Still so young though cancer does not age discriminate'.

And on Twitter @mykris wrote: 'good luck, stay positive & strong.'