FORMER REPUBLIC OF Ireland international Kevin Sheedy hopes that others can learn from his “surreal” battle against bowel cancer.
Sheedy, 53, was given the all-clear by doctors last autumn after they successfully diagnosed and treated him in the early stages of the disease.
Now he’s campaigning to make people aware of the importance of acting quickly to get any worries about their health checked out.
“It went as smoothly as I could have wished for,” Sheedy told TheScore.ie in Dublin earlier this week.
“Recently I’ve had some more tests done and they came back all clear. I’ll continue to be tested over a period of time.
I’m a really lucky, fortunate person. My main message to people would be that if you’re having problems, if there is something wrong or you know yourself that you’re not quite right, don’t take any chances. Don’t bury your head in the sand. Go to your GP and let them get the tests done.
Sheedy, who scored Ireland’s first ever goal at the World Cup finals when he famously equalised against England at Italia 90, has since returned to work in his coaching role as part of Everton’s youth academy.
Although he had first-hand experience of the trauma of bowel cancer — his mother died from the disease and his father is currently in remission following his own treatment — parts of his own illness are a bit of blur.
“There is a family history of it so I suppose, deep down, at some stage you expect to get it but I was 52 at the time and not really expecting to get it.
“I did and as I say, I was fortunate that I was in great hands and everything was done for me.
It’s a little bit surreal because it went so smoothly that I’m looking back and thinking, did that actually happen? It did. Yes.
He added: “I’m a positive person, I’m really mentally strong. I didn’t surround myself with any negativity at all. I knew I was going to beat it, I remained positive, and I was fortunate that everything went well.”
A Merseyside legend during his playing days, the former Liverpool and Everton midfielder says he was “humbled” by the support he received from the football community during his illness.
Now he hopes to use his status to hammer home his message of vigilance and early detection with football fans.
“The angle that comes into it for me is the supporters on the terraces: mostly blokes really who don’t want to go to their GP.
“They don’t want to waste their GP’s time. They just bury their head in the sand. They think it will go away which it never does.”