RYAN Edwards says that the prospect of taking a six-month break from football was initially a bigger blow than his cancer diagnosis.
Argyle centre-back Eddy’s season was curtailed early in the New Year when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer, from which he is now well on the road to recovery.
Such was his desire to see out his increasingly promising first campaign with the Pilgrims that he initially pursued the idea of continuing to play following his diagnosis.
He said: “One of the first things I was told was that I was not going to play for up to six months. That’s when I panicked a bit. That hit me more than being diagnosed with cancer.
“We were on a good little run at the time. I think we were nine unbeaten and, as you’ve seen now, we were starting to climb up the table. I just wanted to carry on being part of it.
“I’ve been pretty lucky with injuries and stuff like that in the past. The longest I’d ever missed was two weeks or something, so getting told you are not going to pay for six months is pretty damaging to yourself.
“I asked the question ‘Could surgery be put back to the summer?’ – I’d rather miss my summer than miss my football. That wasn’t the case. When experts are telling you ‘You need to get this done – it’s pretty aggressive’, there’s nothing you can do. You’ve got to listen to them and do as they say.”
Even as it became evident that the 24-year-old defender would require surgery and a burst of chemotherapy, a decision was made not to burden the Argyle squad with the news. Eddy subsequently played in games against Bury at Home Park, where he contributed to a clean sheet in a 3-0 win, and Doncaster at the Keepmoat Stadium, where he scored in a 1-1 draw.
He said: “I spoke with the manager and we thought ‘We’ll keep it between us and we’ll tell the lads when it’s time that I can’t play any more’ and that is what we did. I wouldn’t change it any other way.
“During that week before surgery, from the Monday onwards, I was speaking with the physio a lot, quietly, and the doctor; and I was leaving training a bit early to go and get blood tests.
“The lads started asking ’What’s going on here? Why do you keep speaking to the physio?’ I just said ‘I haven’t been feeling well’. It might sound bad but it was the best thing to do and keep the lads away from it for as long as we could until it was right for them to find out.”
Eventually, the players were told on the day of Eddy’s surgery to remove his testicle, 48 hours before they played a home match against Wigan.
The players were not the only people who needed to be informed of developments.
Eddy said: “The hardest thing for me was getting on the ’phone and telling the family. It was stupid but, at the time, I thought ‘Is there any way I can carry on and not tell the family?’ because it was only going to upset them.
“Anyone who knows me knows I don’t like being the centre of attention; I don’t like all the fuss and stuff. That’s just the way I am.
“But they had plans to come down anyway on the Friday of the Bury game, so we had a good talk and I think them seeing me strong made them stronger and got through it better. If they’d seen me upset, they are going to be upset and it was going to be hard for us all.
“Don’t get me wrong, they’ve struggled through the lot of it – their son’s been diagnosed – but when they got to see me and seeing how strong I was feeling, to see me just getting on with it, I think that helped them a lot.”
His family and his club have been at the core of a support network which has been remarkable from the moment his illness was made public.
He said: “After surgery, my ’phone actually stopped working – it went that crazy with the support, which am I ever so grateful for.
“I knew it was going to go big but I wasn’t quite expecting it to be this big.
“The support has been outstanding, as it has from all the lads; from all the fans; everyone in football.”