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Cancer man thrown out of pub for refusing to take hat off

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Published Date: 28 January 2010

By Sarah Dunn

A CANCER patient who has lost all his hair after chemotherapy was told to leave a Sheffield pub - because he wouldn't take his hat off.

Benjamin Rhodes, aged 20, has been left bald by the treatment he has undergone for testicular, stomach, lung and back cancer.

He said he doesn't feel comfortable going out without a hat, but was told that he would have to remove it by staff at the Sherwood pub in Birley Moor Road, Frecheville.

The linguistics student, who has kept up with his studies at the University of Manchester throughout his ordeal, said he couldn't believe how he was treated.

He had returned to Sheffield during some time off from university to catch up with friends and family he had not seen since the start of the new year.

Benjamin said: "I'm not vain but I'm not comfortable without my hat - it's very unusual for me, I'm used to having hair and I prefer to keep my hat on.

"They asked me to take it off. I started to feel a bit panicky and a bit nervous. I took the lady to one side and told her I'd got cancer and had been going through chemo. But she didn't care and said I would have to leave if I didn't take it off.

"I was shocked - when this had happened in Manchester I'd explained the situation to the bouncers and it had all been okay. I couldn't believe it was happening. I realise there are rules but I also think they should listen to mitigating circumstances and need to be more flexible."

Benjamin first noticed signs of the cancer last summer and underwent surgery last September.

Within weeks of the procedure doctors told him that the disease had spread to his stomach, lung and back. A course of chemotherapy was started at Christie's cancer hospital in Manchester, near to his student house, which allowed him to continue with the third year of his degree course.

He spent the new year celebrations in hospital, and was finally able to fit in a visit back to Sheffield around his studies once the course of treatment ended earlier this month. Jason Flexen, area manager for The Sherwood, a Greene King pub, said: "I would like to apologise unreservedly for any distress caused.

"On this occasion we followed our no hats policy a little too closely. We have introduced the policy to ensure our customers enjoy a warm and friendly environment.

"We have subsequently re-emphasised to all staff the need to be flexible in exceptional circumstances such as these. It was an honest misunderstanding by one of our staff and will not happen again."

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