Iwan Roberts: A week that has put football firmly in perspective

Daniel Barden of Norwich during the Sky Bet Championship match at the Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff

Bury Town boss Ben Chenery is proud of former loan star Dan Barden for his performances for Norwich City. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I have to start with this week's column by saying how saddened and shocked I was at the beginning of this week when I heard that young Dan Barden has been diagnosed with testicular cancer and will undergo treatment immediately. 

I don’t know Dan, I’ve never met him but being a Welsh boy, I’ve kept my eye on him as he starts his footballing career and he’s impressed me. I thought he did ever so well last season when he was called upon when Tim Krul was out injured. 

Dan has two Welsh U21 caps and I know Paul Bodin the Welsh U21s manager very well and he rates him very highly. He says he’s a big future in front of him. 

It’s been a very sad week for Welsh football with David Brooks coming out last week and telling us that he’s been diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma and now this bombshell with Dan. 

Both are young, very fit men and both have responded very positively to this shocking news which if you are going to beat this cruel horrible illness you have to be. 

From what I read both cancers have a high curable rate, especially if it’s diagnosed and treated early which has been the case with both David and Dan. 

I remember a few years ago when I heard that big John Hartson had testicular cancer which had spread to his lungs and his brain. I was devastated. 

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The day after he was rushed to hospital I rang his dad Cyril to see how the big man was and what the doctors and surgeons were going to do about his cancer and to this day I can remember Cyril’s response as if it was yesterday.  

I could tell by his voice he was crying and he just said to me: “They aren’t worried about the cancer, they are just trying to keep him alive for the next 24 hours.” 

I was stunned and I couldn’t get any words out of my mouth to console Cyril, but I knew that if anybody could fight and beat cancer then John was that person and that’s exactly what the big man did. 

If ever Dan or David ever has dark days in the next few months and have doubts about their recovery then I’m sure that John would gladly speak to them about what he went through and how he came through it. 

A friend of my daughter was diagnosed about three years ago with testicular cancer and big John went out of his way to speak to him. They spoke for well over 30 minutes and I’m so pleased how positive Alex was after talking to John. He’s now made a full recovery. 

I was diagnosed in 2004 with skin cancer and had I not had two operations within 24 hours of getting my biopsy results to remove the malignant melanoma from my forearm it would have killed me within 12 months, which is scary. Since then I’ve been back up to Norwich and Norfolk hospital quite a few times to have parts of my body cut off, but luckily they have all been benign. 

It’s not been a good start to the season for Norwich but when you hear the news about Dan who’s not 21 until January and David Brooks who was only 24 in July it makes the club’s poor start seem insignificant as there really are more important things in life than football. 

Mind you, I’m sure the lads would love to go to Stamford Bridge tomorrow lunchtime and win their first Premier League game of the season and dedicate the victory to Dan and his family. 

I want to send both Dan, David and their families my well wishes and hope both have speedy recoveries and look forward to seeing both back out there soon playing football. 

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