PORTADOWN footballer Richard Clarke says he is determined to beat testicular cancer.
The 33-year-old, who has been at Shamrock Park since 1994, underwent a successful orchidectomy operation on Wednesday. He will discover his treatment options within the next few weeks.
Clarke, who will take a break from football as he battles the illness, revealed that the cancer may have been triggered when he was struck by the ball in a match against Coleraine in March.
“I actually discovered a lump a few years ago but at the time the doctor felt it was nothing to worry about,” said Clarke.
“However, I was hit by the ball during a match last season against Coleraine and then noticed a change over time in the lump. I decided to bring it up with the doctor and that led to various scans and examinations before confirmation something was wrong.
“The consultants have said everything can be okay until something triggers it, like that incident in the Coleraine match.”
Clarke has underlined the importance of early detection in fighting testicular cancer.
“Some people may think the young or those who stay in good physical shape can be immune but it is vital to check regularly and visit a doctor with any concerns,” he said.
Clarke revealed his deep gratitude at messages of support from those in the Portadown Football Club family and around the Irish League following the shock news of his diagnosis.
He posted on his Twitter account last weekend of the decision to take “a few months break from footy and my player/coach role at PFC due to illness” and of his “hope to make return soon #keepthefaith”.
“I am really grateful for the messages wishing me well from Portadown fans on Twitter and people connected to other football clubs,” he said.
“I have not had time to respond to each individual tweet but they all mean a lot.
“I am staying positive and determined to do everything possible to beat this illness so certainly that backing means a lot on top of the support from my family and friends.
“The management, players and staff at Portadown Football Club have been excellent and told me to take as much time as I need to focus on my health. I knew pre-season was set to start last week so I phoned or sent a text message to the rest of the Portadown players.
“Although telling people can be difficult, my decision to get everything out in the open is part of the plan to confront this situation head-on.”
The Macmillan Cancer Support website states that 2,000 men get diagnosed each year in the United Kingdom with testicular cancer.
Clarke’s decision to openly discuss his illness is motivated by a desire to increase awareness among other men, especially those in their 30s.
“One common theme from visiting doctors and consultants has been how much the experts stress the importance of early detection,” he said.
“It can be a life-saving decision and testicular cancer is especially common in men around my age.
Following Wednesday’s operation, Clarke posted on Twitter, “Operation done and dusted. Sore few days ahead. Thanks to all again for the messages of support recently.”