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John's Story

"The way I saw it, I was 31, I was fathering kids, I was training hard every day, I was moving clubs – I was doing everything that was asked of me. I was also, if I’m honest, pretty ignorant about the symptoms of testicular cancer and the importance of getting treatment early. I had no idea of the danger I was putting myself in.

"It wasn’t until I started suffering the most horrendous headaches that I went to see my GP and mentioned the lumps. Within days I found out the lumps were testicular cancer and the headaches were the result of a tumour. I had waited so long to get checked that the cancer had spread to my lungs and my brain and I was diagnosed with stage-four cancer.

"Had I got the lumps checked when I first discovered them, I could have spared myself months of operations and gruelling treatments, not to mention the worry I could have saved my family in the process.

"So I urge you – don’t do as I did, do as I say. Check yourself regularly, know what to look for and get anything out of the ordinary seen to by your GP. It could save your life."

Before going head-to-head with testicular cancer, John Hartson was a fearless footballer for 16 years, making his name as striker at the highest level.

  • First signed for: Luton Town in 1992, aged 16
  • Broke British records: three years later when Arsenal paid £2.5million – then a record fee for a teenager – taking him to Highbury where he scored 17 goals in 70 appearances
  • Smashed club records: by moving to West Ham United in a £3.2million deal, repaying them with 33 goals in 73 games, then signing for Wimbledon for £7.5million
  • Came close to signing for Rangers in 2000: but the deal collapsed after John failed a medical. Within a year he was on his way to their biggest rivals, Celtic
  • Enjoyed his greatest success: at Celtic where he become one of only 28 players to score more than 100 goals for the club and was named joint winner of the Scottish Football Writers’ Association Player of the Year 2005
  • Saw out his playing days: by moving to West Bromwich Albion in 2006 before signing as a columnist with The Scottish Sun and commentating for S4C and ITV Sport. Spell as assistant coach with Welsh international team.
  • Present day: John combines his role as founder and ambassador of the Foundation with his ongoing media work