Gothenburg Great Jim Leighton has revealed how he has been battling cancer for the last 18 months.
The former Scotland and Aberdeen goalkeeper, who was part of the team which won the European Cup Winners Cup in 1983, has urged men to have their prostate checked after he was diagnosed with the form of cancer – which then spread into his lymph nodes.
The 62-year-old had to endure 37 consecutive days of radiotherapy and hormone injections and said he might never have known that he had the illness, but for a conversation with former Aberdeen teammate, Willie Garner.
Mr Leighton said: “I heard that Willie had been diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and I phoned up to tell him I was sorry, and to find out how he was doing.
“We chatted for about 10 minutes, then he asked me if I had ever been checked out because he knew my late dad, Sam, had also suffered from prostate cancer.
“So I got the tests and it turned out that my PSA [the prostate-specific antigen test] was through the roof.
“Initially, I was told I would have to get my prostate removed, then about a week later, I got called into Aberdeen Royal Infirmary and I learned that the cancer had spread into my lymph nodes.
”As soon as they mentioned cancer, I just switched off.
“I had to be told later by my wife Diane about the other stuff they told me. It hits you hard.
”I had dealt with prostate cancer for 25 years with my dad and I never knew that it was hereditary, so there is a massive lack of awareness about this subject and, men being men, we don’t want to talk about these things.
“I might never have gone to the doctor if I hadn’t had the conversation with Willie. So he is definitely on my Christmas card list.”
Mr Leighton, who won 91 Scotland caps between 1982 and 1998, said he had nothing but admiration for the staff at Ucan in Aberdeen, the charity based at the city hospital which is dedicated to raising awareness of urological cancers and providing support for men who have to deal with the disease.
He added: “The nursing staff all did an unbelievable job. They made me feel as if I was the first person who had been diagnosed with this and I can’t thank them enough.
”I went through 37 days of radiotherapy and I am still getting the hormone injections, but the nurses were so helpful.
”I’m fine now, but it has been a tough 18 months. I didn’t want to have the glare of publicity, I just wanted to do the rehab, but now I want to pass on this message.
”Please go and get yourself checked out. Don’t think it won’t happen to you.”
Prostate cancer is the most common cancer amongst men in Scotland, affecting one in 10.