Chesterfield's Wembley hero Tony Lormor is using Blood Cancer Awareness Month to raise the profile of lymphoma and the services available for those affected by it.
The popular ex Spireite spent three years at Saltergate, scoring at Wembley to help Town overcome Bury in the 1995 Division Three play-off final.
Lormor, 48, who made more than 100 appearances for Chesterfield between 1994 and 1997, scoring 35 goals, was first diagnosed with follicular lymphoma in December 2011.
Following successful treatment, his lymphoma was in remission for several years and he raised thousands of pounds for Lymphoma Action.
Sadly his lymphoma came back last year and, whilst he is currently undergoing treatment, he is still raising awareness of lymphoma from his hospital bed.
He said: “The first sign I had back in 2011 that something wasn’t right, was a pea-sized lump on my neck.
"I was the kit manager for Chesterfield FC at the time, so I spoke to the club physio and doctor, who both suggested I see my GP.
"It all escalated really quickly from that point and I was diagnosed with follicular lymphoma.
"The diagnosis was a shock because I’d had no other symptoms, such as night sweats, and I hadn’t felt unwell and had been working as usual. But to be honest, hearing I had cancer gave me the kick up the bum that I needed; I’d lost focus."
Tony said that he had never actually appreciated 'how previous life was' and by the age of 40 he had lost his mum to cancer, been married and divorced twice and changed jobs loads.
He admitted he hit 'panic mode' and turned to alcohol.
"But when I heard the word ‘cancer’ it was as if the fog lifted and it all became clear," he said. "Now I had a purpose and a focus: get better then make a difference.
“So I stopped working for a year and began raising money for Lymphoma Action, trekking in the Arctic and raising £6,500. I wrote a plan, started working for a sports charity, and I went into schools to talk about my experiences, and how sport made me the person I am today to hopefully inspire a new generation. I also became an ambassador for Lymphoma Action, continuing to fundraise for the charity and spreading the word about the excellent services and support they offer.
“I feel like I’m finally giving something back and making my kids proud. And it all stems from that moment when I was told I had lymphoma. Until I was diagnosed, I didn’t realise just how prevalent it is – the fifth most common cancer in the UK and the most common in young people. I want to raise awareness of it so that people know what to look out for and they know where to go for help."
Unfortunately Tony is back in Chesterfield Royal Hospital where he had hus first treatment for lymphoma six or seven years ago.
He said: "The staff are brilliant and it is quite comforting this time to see so many faces that I recognise. It’s hard being hooked up to the chemo for so many hours with just a very short break in between sessions. But there is some progress; the enlarged lymph nodes in my neck have reduced, which is a good sign.
“I’m just taking one day at a time for now and trying to stay upbeat and positive about it. A good sense of humour has helped me get this far and I’ve started a blog about this latest experience, which I’m finding really therapeutic. I hope it might help others too.”
September is Blood Cancer Awareness Month. Find out more and get involved at www.lymphoma-action.org.uk/BCAM.