IT is testimony to the strength of Ryan Edwards’ character that two of his best displays of the season came after he had been diagnosed with testicular cancer.
The 24-year-old Argyle centre-back is on the verge of beginning his comeback with the Pilgrims after surgery and chemotherapy which he underwent following Argyle’s 1-1 draw away to Doncaster Rovers on January 13.
Incredibly, even though Eddy knew that he would require treatment before the previous 3-0 home win over Bury, he scored the equaliser at Doncaster to secure a valuable point.
The train of events which led to his necessary absence from the second half of the Pilgrims’ season began on December 23.
He said: “It was after the Oldham game, just before Christmas. I saw a doctor after that game. I found a lump about a month beforehand – sometime in November – in my testicle. I thought nothing of it. My brother had one in the past and it only ended up being cyst, so he was saying it could just be that.
“But it did seem to be getting bigger and [there were] a lot more shooting pains. When that was happening, I thought ‘I’ve got to go and get this seen to’.
“Then I was coming home from training and I was finding myself napping on the couch. I just thought that was normal – our training is pretty intense; we work hard. But it kept happening – coming home from training and sleeping, justreading a book and dozing off. I thought ‘This isn’t me.’
“So I spoke to my family and got it checked out. Lucky enough I did, because I caught it at a pretty early stage. They said it was one of the most aggressive tumours.
“I got told on the Wednesday before the Bury game that it was cancer. We sat down – me, the [club] doctor, Paul [Atkinson] the physio and Derek Adams. We had a chat for an hour. I got told what it was, we spoke through what I could be expecting, what not to expect. They were great with me.
“I could see the gaffer’s face. He was devastated, as he would be if it was anyone of his players getting told such bad news. He was shocked, but he’s been just great; he’s been on the ’phone a lot; he’s texted a lot.”
Until the day of his surgery – Thursday, January 18 – only a few people knew the extent of Eddy’s illness. The select group did not include his team-mates.
He said: “Derek told them on the Thursday after, before the Wigan game – that was the day of my surgery. I went into hospital that morning and the manger told them at meeting that day.
“I thought ‘I’ll lock it away as best I can and carry on playing until I can’t.’ I played the Bury game after I’d found out on the Wednesday – and probably had my best game! – and then we kept it quiet.
“I had a few appointments the week after for blood tests, and we travelled to Doncaster on the Friday. I knew, going into the game, that was my last game, so if anything affected me, it was a little in the dressing-room before the match, knowing that could be my last game until next season.
“My head probably wasn’t right, to be honest, going into that game, but, luckily enough, it went pretty well. We got a good point and I scored. I definitely wouldn’t change it; I think it was the right thing to do.”