Athletic Bilbao defender Yeray Alvarez has given a revealing interview discussing his health struggles after twice overcoming testicular cancer.
The central defender has had a disrupted 18 months after twice being diagnosed with the condition, but after missing nine months of action he has been in Athletic’s first-team squad since February.
“The first time I got the news was the most shocking because I couldn’t believe that I was sick, but it was a cancer that has a high percentage of curing,” Yeray told O11CE Metros, in quotes cited by Inside Athletic.
“I knew that there could be a relapse and that is what happened. I already made up my mind that I was going to fight and it was much better because I am still young.
“For me, maybe it was somewhat easier because of how I take things and how I face things. I wouldn’t use the word “fear” with cancer, but I would say that I respect cancer.
“I wasn’t afraid because the doctors were always optimistic and I was surrounded by people who were convinced that I would be healed.
“From the moment I received the diagnosis, even though it was bad news, the doctors were already telling me that the expectations were good. It is a hard time and many things come to mind, but I have always been a calm person and I have relied heavily on my family and friends.
“The worst was the hours inside the clinic and the week after treatments with the symptoms and the tiredness. Before you don’t realize how many people support and encourage you, even those who have gone through the same thing.
“From tasting food without nausea to being with friends and on the field, I appreciate it all much more now. I hope that this can be an example for everyone and I want people to know that they can beat this. This disease has helped me grow a lot.”
“The disease changes you a lot. I set aside football and many other things, and I focused on living in the moment with the people that I love and with my family.
“The disease has been a great time of learning for me. I am grateful for the support I received from everywhere, not just from the world of football. It has been incredible and I am overwhelmed. I have been very grateful in this situation and I’ve received thousands of messages of support. It is almost impossible to read them all.
“When my teammates all shaved their heads in support it was a moment that I will remember for the rest of my life. It wasn’t an easy gesture, but it was big because they are the best. That is why I will always say that this is not just any team, we are a great family.”