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'Struggling' Spurr steeled for charity fundraiser in aid of his son
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Jonathan Veal
Press Association
Tommy Spurr’s son has recently recovered from cancer (Daniel Hambury/PA)
Tommy Spurr’s son has recently recovered from cancer (Daniel Hambury/PA)

Former English Football League defender Tommy Spurr continues to live with worry even though his son has recently overcome cancer.

The ex-Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn full-back has had to endure every parent’s worst nightmare as his four-year-old boy Rio was diagnosed with Wilms Tumour – a form of kidney cancer – last April.

The disease spread to his lungs and contained anaplastic features which made it harder to cure and more likely to return.

But after nine months of a punishing chemotherapy treatment and 10 days of radiotherapy Rio got the great news last month that there was no longer any evidence of the cancer.

However, because of the anaplasia, doctors have said the cancer has a 50 per cent chance of returning and if it does not only does the survival rate plummet to just 10 per cent, there are no further treatment options on the NHS.

Alongside Rio’s treatment, the Spurr family have been fundraising, with the former player quitting his job as a teacher, in case the worst does happen.

But although they are able to enjoy seeing their little boy start to live a normal life again, the worry of what might be to come has been hard for Spurr and his wife Chloe to deal with.

“The first meeting when you hear them say what it was was just horrific,” Spurr, who retired four years ago aged just 31, told the PA news agency.

“It turned our world upside down and I don’t think it’s something that will ever leave me or my wife.

“We were petrified because we knew he was up against it and the thought of losing our little boy was horrendous.

“But fast forward to a couple of weeks ago to be told there was nothing there was a massive relief.

“You want to get on with your life and forget about it but you know the risk of it coming back is still there.

“My wife and I are still struggling to deal with that and live normally, it is hard to put that out of your mind, knowing he is going to get scanned again and praying and hoping they come back with nothing on.

“It has been really hard. I am lucky that I have got my wife. Mentally it has been really hard, the fundraising has been keeping us going because it feels like we are trying to do something positive for Rio but even now I don’t want to sound negative but it is difficult not knowing where we are going to be in a year’s time.”

If that news ever does come, Spurr wants to be in the best position possible as their only likely option is going to be treatment in America and that will not come cheaply.

“This is the difficulty at the moment. We would more than likely have to access a clinical trial or something that is not available in this country,” he added.

“What that is yet we don’t know because we are hoping we don’t get to that point.

“We know another family whose child had an identical diagnosis to Rio had treatment in America and their hospital bill for that trip was £650,000 so it is what it is. We will be as prepared as we can be but every day we are praying we are not going to be in that position.”

The next step of the fundraising sees Spurr staging a charity match this Sunday, where former Sheffield Wednesday and Sheffield United players will go head-to-head in a Steel City Derby at the Olympic Legacy Park.

Ron Atkinson and Neil Warnock will be in the dugouts, with a number of high-profile ex-players giving their time.

Spurr said: “The lads are giving up their time to come and play, it’s been amazing that people want to be involved.

“The number of people that have bought tickets and wanting to help has been overwhelming. Me and my wife are so thankful.

“I think I’ll be playing the whole thing but I might have to give Big Ron a sign if I am struggling. Some of the lads I used to play with I have not seen for 10 years, it will be nice to catch up.”


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