Footballers' cancer message for boys

A MALE message has been relayed to schoolboys by their sporting heroes.Ex-Ipswich Town stars Craig Forrest and Jason Cundy met with Leiston High School pupils yesterday to tell of their battles with testicular cancer, in a bid to help more youngsters detect early signs of the disease.

A MALE message has been relayed to schoolboys by their sporting heroes.

Ex-Ipswich Town stars Craig Forrest and Jason Cundy met with Leiston High School pupils yesterday to tell of their battles with testicular cancer, in a bid to help more youngsters detect early signs of the disease.

The event was part of a health awareness campaign being run jointly by cancer charities and Anglia TV.

In October 2001, Canadian International goalkeeper Craig Forrest who played for Ipswich 263 times before moving to West Ham, told the Star of his anguish as he waited to hear if he had beaten cancer.


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Jason Cundy was also struck down while at Portman Road, and had surgery in early 1997.

In Leiston, the teenagers were filmed as they met and played football with their sporting heroes before watching a video about the disease, and hearing how Craig and Jason coped when they were diagnosed with cancer.

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The pair developed the condition at different times and Jason, who has been given the all clear, has been able to support Craig who is still waiting to find out how his treatment has gone.

"I'm five years on. I'm at one end of the spectrum and Craig's pretty much at the other," said Jason.

The former Portman Road defender, diagnosed in 1997, is now training as a football coach and has worked to get the message across to men to check themselves for signs of testicular cancer.

"This is something I have been doing for a while now," he said. "I believe it's the fastest growing cancer among men at the moment and it's something that needs to be kept in check."

But he added trying to get through to youngsters was not always easy.

"It's a bit like trying to stop them from smoking. The dangers are so far ahead of them, it's irrelevant.

"But if it helps to detect one case of testicular cancer early, it'll be worth it."

Craig took the decision to join his former team mate at the high school while he waits for the all clear from doctors.

"I was diagnosed in October and having chemo, and I'm sort of getting back from that. I have not had my first big scan since the treatment," he said.

The goalkeeper's scan is due to be carried out next week and he added: "It's a little bit nerve-racking. I'm pretty confident everything will be clear, but the initial impact when your doctor tells you that you have cancer is obviously the most difficult. It's a frightening word."

The footballing duo hope the decision to speak publicly about their experiences will help more men to detect and treat the problem early.

Craig, 34, joined West Ham in 1997 but continued to live in Ipswich with his family, said it was difficult at his age let alone younger to believe you could ever get testicular cancer.

"It's important to get it across to these young boys," he said. "They have got to start checking themselves."

Deputy headteacher, Rob Sherington, said the Year Nine youngsters were "dead excited" about the footballers' visit and had put up goalposts, which had been removed from the playing field as the season was over.

He hoped the special talk would help get the crucial health message across to them.

"Students think it'll never happen to me," he said. "We looked on it as an ideal time to increase their awareness in a different way to having a teacher talking to them or even a health visitor talk to them."

Anglia TV's Clued up on Cancer programme, will be screened at 7.30pm on May 7.

It is part of a project being run in partnership with the Cancer Network, including the Cancer Campaign in Suffolk, and in June they will be taking a roadshow across the region.

Weblink: www.netdoctor.co.uk/diseases/facts/testicularcancer

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See page four for an Evening Star opinion on testicular cancer.

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