Skip to Content
Laura BoydMon 02 Apr 2012 16:52
There was a buzz in the office on Friday afternoon. The sun was shining and we were trying to get everything done and dusted as quickly as possible so we could head out for payday drinks – it had been a long month.
My friend sent me an email with a link to a forum which said footballer Stiliyan Petrov had been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Suddenly it was all over Twitter with #prayforpetrov trending. I felt awful for him, and a real sense of sadness inside, as I know only too well what it means to be told you have leukaemia.
Reading messages of support from fans, footballers and famous faces, it was heartwarming to see how much love there is out there for Stiliyan and I am sure it was of great comfort to him.
His story brought back awful memories of my own diagnosis. I read that he had been feeling flu like – a similar feeling prompted me to go to the doctor.
Never for a second did I imagine I was going to be told I had cancer.
For anyone who hasn’t read my blog before, I was diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukaemia in September 2009.
Reports indicate Stiliyan has ‘acute leukaemia’ – I am not sure if this is myeloid or not but I think it is the next stage up (slightly more aggressive) to the form I have.
If he’s anything like me, just now will be a bit of a blur: test upon tests, treatment, needles, bone marrow removal (bite your lip for this one Stiliyan) and lots of information about counts and numbers you don’t really understand.
The only way I can describe the feeling is like there is rollercoaster in front of you, you definitely don’t want to be on it but you can’t get off, so have to sit back and hope for the best on the ride.
That no doubt sounds ridiculous, but in a way, your life is suddenly in somebody else’s hands and you just have to trust they will do the best. And they will.
I am sure Stiliyan will be receiving the best treatment possible and knowing doctors and nurses are truly passionate about doing all they can to help you, is something that has helped me get through.
Another thing that has helped has been meeting inspirational people who have been through cancer and are now living life to the full.
One such person is John Hartson, Petrov’s former Celtic teammate.
I am fortunate enough to interview a lot of celebrities thanks to my job, but no interview has ever meant as much to me as speaking to John.
His outlook on life, the fact that he managed to fight back from having testicular cancer and a terrifying amount of tumours and is now the picture of health, is completely inspirational.
His story is something I focus on when I get the ‘what if' fear and I am sure his bravery and words will have helped Stiliyan to.
I caught up with John today as he took time out of his busy work schedule to visit the delighted staff and visitors at Glasgow’s Maggie’s Centre.
Speaking of Stiliyan’s news he said: “Well, I was initially shocked cause you don’t expect to hear it from someone that close to you.
“He’s super fit as a lad and you’re just shocked with the reaction.
“I actually got hold of him on Sunday afternoon and strangely enough he was quite upbeat about what the next month will be like for him.
“You know it’s going to be a mental battle and he’s going to have to use all his physical strength to get through this.
“He’s got every reason to fight for his life; he’s got two beautiful children and a wife and a very strong family that will support him.
“He’s got the support of not just the Celtic family and Celtic supporters, the whole of football in general will support him.”
Personally, I also found reading positive stories online helped me so Stiliyan, if by any chance you stumble across this (the internet is a great thing to pass the time in hospital) I want you to know that two and a half years on from being told I had leukaemia and thinking my life was over, I am still going strong.
I feel healthier than I have in years. I take Glivec – chemotherapy medication - every night, which makes me feel a bit quesy, but hey, it’s a small price to pay.
After six months I returned to work and although I still very occasionally have a ‘yuk’ day, on the whole I feel better than I have in years.
I go to the gym (I think John’s story shamed me into this), I sing in a band and I party harder than I ever have done, because I truly know life is too short. My friends have to drag me off the dance floor – sorry guys.
I go for check-ups every three months, which brings back the reality of the disease, but so far, so good.
The hope is I can live a normal life on Glivec, just as a diabetic sufferer survives with insulin.
There will be dark days, but they pass, and somehow you learn to appreciate life and those around you and embrace every opportunity that comes your way.
I hope your battle with the big C follows a similar, happy, path Stiliyan and just like John, you can turn this around and show that we can overcome this dreaded disease. Good luck x