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John Hartson planning Lance Armstrong visit


Hartson's cancer check warning

By Gareth Rhys Owen
BBC Sport Wales

Former Wales striker John Hartson says he is planning to visit cycling legend Lance Armstrong to thank him for his support during his battle with cancer.

Armstrong, a cancer survivor, asked his followers on Twitter to pray for Hartson when he was diagnosed in July.

"One of the doctors told me that Lance Armstrong had stopped all of his fans and asked them to say a prayer for Big John," Hartson, 34, told BBC Sport.

"That was really nice of him," added the former Arsenal and Celtic frontman.

The retired striker, who is recovering from testicular cancer, was admitted to hospital for surgery and chemotherapy in August.

Lance Armstrong
I aim to get over there and meet the great man himself in the new year when I get my health back

Former Wales striker John Hartson

Hartson's cancer spread to his brain and lungs and at one stage he was given a "50-50 chance" of surviving.

And the Welsh footballer, who won 51 international caps in 10 years between 1995 and 2005, said the message from Armstrong had touched him.

Armstrong survived testicular cancer that spread to his brain and lungs in 1996 before winning the Tour de France seven times in succession from 1999 to 2005.

He founded the Lance Armstrong Foundation which offers support to cancer sufferers and families as millions of yellow Livestrong wristbands have been sold around the world raising money and awareness of the disease.

Armstrong has more than two million followers worldwide on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

Such has been the effect of the 38-year-old American's message of support that Hartson hopes to pay him a visit in the near future.

"I aim to get over there and meet the great man himself in the new year when I get my health back," he said.

Hartson, born and raised in Swansea, also passed on his own goodwill message to fellow footballer and Cardiff City midfielder Stephen McPhail who was diagnosed with the disease earlier in November.

McPhail will undergo three weeks of treatment for stage one MALT lymphoma and Hartson said the news that 29-year-old had been diagnosed with a form of cancer was "terrible".

The Irish international midfielder was told in November after he had surgery to remove a lump from his neck and tests revealed he had the uncommon form of Non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

McPhail, unlike Hartson, has received treatment at an earlier stage of the disease and he hopes to return to playing football in January.

"All I can say is that my thoughts are with Stephen and his family and I hope he makes a speedy recovery," Hartson said.

Hartson - who held the British record for a teenager when he joined Arsenal from Luton Town for £2.5m in 1995 - is now recovering from surgery after cancer had spread to his brain and lungs.

And while his condition has improved he admits that he is still not in the clear.

He said: "I had a big scan on 23 November so am currently waiting the results."

"But within myself, my own body language I'm feeling good.

"The chemotherapy tends to zap your body, makes you feel tired and has several side effects. I never felt ill to be honest with you"

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see also
Hartson would 'turn back clock'
24 Nov 09 |  Wales
McPhail missing for three months
10 Nov 09 |  Cardiff
McPhail to have cancer treatment
21 Nov 09 |  Cardiff
Hartson's cancer warning to men
21 Oct 09 |  Wales
Hartson 'ignored signs of cancer'
12 Aug 09 |  Wales
Hartson is 'gradually improving'
31 Jul 09 |  Wales
Cancer boy's support for Hartson
25 Jul 09 |  Wales
Hartson condition still critical
17 Jul 09 |  Wales
Hartson told cancer also in lungs
15 Jul 09 |  Wales
Hartson facing cancer treatment
13 Jul 09 |  Wales
Hartson brings career to an end
07 Feb 08 |  West Brom
BBC Sport Wales coverage
03 Oct 11 |  Wales

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