LISTENING to Ryan Edwards talk about the testicular cancer that has temporarily interrupted his football career, it is easy to forget that he is a young man for whom life has barely begun.
Not only has he approached tackling the disease with the same determination and toughness that he has shown throughout his burgeoning career, he also – and bear in mind that he is still feeling the effects of his treatment – shows a maturity beyond his years in offering genuine concern for others similarly affected.
Eddy, 24, said: “If anyone is ashamed or embarrassed talking about, with it being a man’s thing, if someone wanted to talk about it, I’d love them to get in touch with myself or the club, and come and see me.
“It is important, not only to speak to someone, but to speak to someone who’s been there and been through it. It will help you massively.
“I’m pretty lucky, really, that I wasn’t afraid to speak to someone, and I hope anyone who is following me through this does that, because it can save their life.”
The Pilgrims’ central defender was diagnosed with cancer early in the New Year after finding a lump in his testicle just before Christmas.
He said: “As soon as I got it, I thought ‘It’s not going to beat me’ – ‘It can knock me down but it won’t keep me down’ – and that I’d get over it; it was just a matter of how long it will take. The doctors have all said, with me being so young and fit, that I will probably beat it a bit quicker than an average normal person will.”
Not that being young and fit has made him immune from the effects of an intensive course of chemotherapy which he completed in the last week of March and from which he has been recovering at his parents’ Liverpool home.
“It’s a pretty tough thing,” he said. “When it does hit you, it really does knock it out of you. You have days when you think ‘Am I ever going to get over this? How long is it going to take to stop being like this?’ and sleepless nights and all-day, non-stop, side-effects.
“But you’ve got to keep going. You can’t just sit there and let it beat you. You have got to do everything you can. That’s what I’ve done. I’m grateful to have a very supportive family around me, and friends, and a very supportive club; set of fans; lads; management team.”
And more. The whole football world, it seems, has adopted the #WithYouEddy hashtag, including Liverpool and England captain Jordan Henderson. However, there has been one ex-Evertonian, a fellow centre-back and fellow testicular cancer patient, who has been for Eddy what Eddy would like to be for others.
He said: “I must give a mention to a former player who is from this area, called Alan Stubbs.
“He got in touch with me on the night of my surgery and wanted to meet me straight away. He doesn’t live far from here, so he’s been round the house twice.
“For such a big professional footballer who’s been there and done it to sit down and talk to me did me the world of good.”