A BOURNEMOUTH man has followed his dreams to become a full-time musician after he was diagnosed with cancer - just two days after his 40th birthday.

Rich Baxter gave up his demanding job in sales to become a fully-fledged musical artist in an effort to put himself, and his health, first.

The now 43-year-old, of South Kinson Drive, was travelling all over the globe - even during his chemotherapy treatment - working as a sales consultant and trainer before he realised his body needed to come first.

He handed in his resignation letter and hasn't looked back since after he was able to realise his dream and gig full time, following his lengthy recovery.

Mr Baxter had been diagnosed with an aggressive form of testicular cancer and had to undergo intensive chemotherapy of six to eight hours, three days a week for three weeks.

In a single session he put on four kilos in weight from the fluids being pumped around his system.

"I thought 'I have got to make the choice that's right for my health'," he said. "It was after that I thought apart from getting better 'what do I do now'? Your health comes first."

Giving up his career of many years meant Rich took a hit financially.

He said: "It wasn't anything negative to do with the work itself. It was just a very demanding job and it takes a lot of your work-life balance. There wasn't just a single place of work to go to, and it was so dangerous to drive while going through treatment.

"I knew it was going to mess me about financially but from there I thought maybe I could do something with the music and I just love it so much.

"One thing that's really bad is the chemotherapy gives you really bad tinnitus which doesn't help being a musician," he added. "I wasn't sure I could make a career out of it but it's really working."

Rich now performs at gigs at the weekends, and has started a popular live music-cum-quiz show at three different venues. A new band performs each week, organised by Rich, as competitors await their next question, every Tuesday at The New Inn in Poole, and Thursdays at The Augustus John in Fordingbridge.

There is also a quiz evening at the Brewhouse and Kitchen in Poole, which starts in May.

"Now is the time to do something I love," Rich added.