When Philip Collins was told he had cancer and just six months to live he quit his job, cashed in his pension and bought a motorcycle in order to enjoy the time left to him.
When he was still alive a year later, his doctors at Dorset County Hospital re-examined him and admitted that there had been a mistake.
The inoperable “tumour” on his gall bladder was a relatively harmless abscess.
Far from being delighted at his unexpected reprieve Mr Collins, then aged 59, was devastated. He had spent his life savings and his health had been destroyed by the powerful drugs that the doctors prescribed to keep him alive.
Mr Collins, now 61, had even planned his own funeral. And as well as buying the motorcycle, he had bought his wife Isabel a car so that she would have transport after he had gone.
The couple, who have been married for 42 years, also spent an emotional “last” Christmas together.
He is now seeking compensation from the NHS for his ordeal, which he said left him “an absolute wreck” due to the quantity of drugs he had taken needlessly.
Mr Collins, from Dorset, said: “When they told me I had cancer I knew I had a chance to do everything I wanted.
“Now I cannot do anything... if you have spent two years thinking you are going to die, then you are told you are not, it knocks you backwards,” he added. Mrs Collins (62) described the experience as “agony”.
Dorset County Hospital's chief executive Jan Bergman has written to Mr Collins saying the initial diagnosis was made before all the test results had been examined.
He said practices had been reviewed to ensure surgeons looked at all the information before reaching a conclusion.