Page last updated at 11:26 GMT, Friday, 4 December 2009

John Hartson's relief at cancer news

John Hartson
John Hartson was diagnosed with testicular cancer which spread

Former Wales international footballer John Hartson has spoken of his relief at being told cancer has been "virtually eradicated" from his body.

The ex-Arsenal and Celtic striker was diagnosed in July with testicular cancer that had spread to his brain.

He was admitted to hospital in his home city of Swansea, where he was told the disease had also spread to his lungs.

Hartson, 34, said: "I'm not out of the woods yet, though this is my brightest day for a long time."

The footballer underwent emergency surgery after he was diagnosed with cancer and at one stage he was given a "50-50 chance" of surviving.

He went home from hospital in Swansea in August after completing the first phase of his chemotherapy treatment.

We've all been through so much and to get the news from the doctors that the cancer is going from me is fantastic
John Hartson

His agent Mark Brodie released a statement saying the cancer had been "virtually eradicated".

However, he said the footballer, who went on to become a TV pundit, still has an "arduous journey ahead to complete recovery" and requires extensive surgery to remove "abnormal masses" in his lung and brain over the forthcoming months.

But Hartson said the latest news is a huge boost.

"We've all been through so much and to get the news from the doctors that the cancer is going from me is fantastic," he said.

"I would like to thank every single person that has taken the time to either write to me, phone me or leave a message online, your ongoing support is helping me through the battle of my life and is keeping Sarah and the kids upbeat in such terrifying circumstances.

"I'm not out of the woods yet, though this is my brightest day for a long time."

He said well-wishers including cyclist and cancer survivor Lance Armstrong, and Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, had kept him fighting.

'Turn back clock'

Hartson told BBC Wales last month that he wished he could turn the clock back four years and act as soon as he found a lump.

"From the first minute I felt a lump in my testicle I would be in the doctors," he said.

"You're never too busy are you - there's no excuses, I should have gone and had it checked out.

"I wouldn't have gone through all the rigmarole I've gone through possibly, the operations and everything else.

"I think I'd have had it nipped in the bud, avoided lots of chemo and operations."

He now wants to use his public profile to highlight the need for self-checking.

He hopes to get back into football once his treatment is completed and he has all the necessary coaching badges to enable him to resume his career once he is well enough.

He is also looking forward to the birth of his fourth child - his second with partner Sarah McManus, whom he plans to marry.

He already has two other children from a previous relationship.



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