There’s sometimes a stigma with men... your health and life are so much more.
A year on from beating testicular cancer, Alex Stedman is taking on a new challenge of a half marathon in aid of the John Hartson Foundation.
23-year-old Alex was a Sports Journalism student and media intern with Crawley Town when he was diagnosed after getting checked out following persistent pain. A biopsy confirmed there were traces of cancer, meaning Alex had to undergo intense chemotherapy. Following months of check-ups, Alex was finally given the all clear.
Now a Media Assistant working in the Premier League, Alex’s strength and determination to not only beat cancer, but to keep on looking forward to a bright future, has been an remarkable.
What’s more, Alex has very kindly supported the John Hartson Foundation through a campaign that took off on social media. Clubs up and down the country donated shirts that have been auctioned off in aid of JHF, who have been able to fund organisations who do amazing work with people living with cancer as a result.
Alex, a John Hartson Foundation ambassador, has continued to show immense generosity and support by choosing to run a half marathon in aid of the Foundation this September.
We contacted Alex during his training for the event to talk about his story and look towards the future.
Hi Alex, how’s the training going? Have you done any long-distance running before?
Training’s going ok and I plan to increase it over the coming month or so – I haven’t done any long distance running before so it is taking its toll on my legs, but having something to work towards with the fundraising is really pushing me on.
Going back to when you first went to your GP – what were your initial thoughts?
Very apprehensive, I assumed that with the pain it might be something like my eventual diagnosis. When they said they couldn’t find anything it never really re-entered my head until I got told after my eventual operation.
How did you deal with the diagnosis and treatment?
I tried to block it out as best as I could really. I kept going to work as much as I could and tried to carry on as normal but planning your life around hospital visits wasn’t easy in the lead up to chemo. Once it started I had a lot of low days and weeks – I wouldn’t even leave my bed for days at a time and that was really tough for me. When I was awake however, seeing the messages of support and shirts gave me some comfort.
What was it like being told you’d beaten cancer?
An unbelievable feeling because you never think you’ll be the one diagnosed in the first place. I was actually on my own when my nurse came into the day ward and told me because my Mum and Dad were upstairs getting lunch – half the ward came over from their chairs and gave me a hug because I was just sitting there in floods of tears. When my parents came back I could barely get the words out to tell them what the nurse had said to me whilst they’d been away and that my markers were back to normal.
What do you think it is about football that brings people together at difficult times?
People have a lot of pre-conceived and incorrect perceptions about the sport and those that play it, which quite frankly couldn’t be further from the truth. I think there’s a sense of togetherness that you don’t get in other sports – it brings families and communities together and I can’t think of another sport that does that. I think my job helped, and I think in a funny way it made me put a brave face on what was happening.
What are your plans for the future, both in football and personally?
The new job is fantastic and sometimes I pinch myself when I think about the last 12 months – it doesn’t seem real. I still get misty eyed before matches and I’m not afraid to admit that whatsoever, especially the home matches when the sides run out to a certain song. I lost my Grandad midway through treatment and I know he’d be so proud of what I was doing. When 'You’ll Never Walk Alone' played at Anfield on the last game of the season I thought of him – it was probably one of the most special moments of my life.
Finally, what advice would you like to share with anyone living with cancer, and those who feel they should get something checked out but haven’t yet?
Anyone who feels that there might be something amiss should go and get it checked without a doubt. There are so many people and procedures that can help you nowadays and my diagnosis after my operation effectively saved my life because it was spreading quickly. There’s sometimes a stigma with men and these types of cancers, but your health and life are so much more.
If you are able to donate towards Alex’s half marathon challenge, it will go towards the John Hartson Foundation. We support organisations who do exceptional work to make the lives of people living with cancer and their families easier. If you are able to and would like to make a donation, you can do so via Alex’s JustGiving page: www.justgiving.com/fundraising/alex-stedman1
You can also follow Alex on Twitter: @AStedman1