THOUSANDS of pounds were raised by Wigan Athletic fans and legends during a charity game in honour of current player Juan Carlos Garcia, who is battling Leukaemia.
Stars from the past such as Neill Rimmer, Jason Jarrett, David Lowe and Nathan Ellington took to the pitch for the game, playing against a side made up of supporters.
As expected, it was the former pros who took the game, winning 11-2 but the story of the day belonged to one of the fans.
While the main focus was Garcia and his battle and the £2,000 raised for charity Leukaemia CARE, it was particularly poignant for 21-year-old Danny Taberner.
The Latics fan has himself recently come through a cancer battle, which meant he missed the club’s FA Cup triumph in 2013. Fortunately he has made a remarkable recovery and was on hand to score one of the goals for the fans’ side.
Taking up the story, Danny, who is from Westleigh, said: “I was diagnosed with testicular cancer officially in April 2013 and underwent surgery to remove the testicle.
“I then had three cycles of chemotherapy after my CT scan showed that the cancer had spread to one lymph node. The chemotherapy was not as bad as I was expecting.
“At the beginning I was needlephobic and had a PICC line in to reduce the amount of needles I needed. However, two days before the FA cup final it got infected with cellulitis which needed to be treated intravenously hence requiring me to stay in hospital during the match.
“My parents kitted out the TV room at The Christie with Wigan Athletic stuff and my closest mates – who were Manchester United fans – came and watched the game with me. They even cheered louder than us!
“I actually felt more upset missing the final than actually being diagnosed with cancer.
“There was a 97 per cent survival rate for curing testicular Cancer at my stage and a very unlikely chance of Wigan being in the FA Cup final again.
“However, I got given the tumour marker negative from my consultant in June 2013 but I may require a preventive operation if the dead cancer cells needed removing.”
However, a month later a CT scan showed the mass had gone bigger due to residue left behind from the treatment and needed a Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection which left a 14-inch scar I have on his abdomen from the operation in September 2013.
However it did not end there. Just a month later Danny collapsed with a submassive pulmonary embolism which required warfarin for six months.
He said: “This hindered my university start and ended up six weeks behind everyone else. A month after my warfarin course had finished I was struggling to breathe and was told I had a massive pulmonary embolism and needed a clot busting drug which flattened me more than any of the cancer treatment.
“I was on oxygen for a week and missed the Arsenal semi-final. Just two weeks later was my exams for university and ended up getting into the second year without any resits.”
When he was approached by Matt Walker, who was organising the charity game in honour of Garcia, he jumped at the chance to take part.
It was a dream come true for Danny, who played against some of his childhood heroes.
“To line up against fellow idols such as Nathan Ellington and Jason Jarrett and those who played just before I were born with the likes of Neil Rimmer and David Lowe was a dream come true,” he said.
“But once you step on that pitch, idols go out the window who had kindly taken time out to play against us to raise money for such a worthy cause. You see the crowd and the past players and the adrenaline kicks in. I am still smiling now!
“To score was the icing on the cake. I look forward to the DVD to see it all again and my awkward celebration, not knowing how to celebrate through shear ecstasy and joy then my teammate told me ‘keep your shirt on, do the Bullard celebration!’
“So I ended up doing that after my team had stopped mobbing me. I guess it was a fitting way and hope others who have had cancer can take inspiration and realise there is a life to lead after cancer and not to feel like ‘why me?’.
“To sum it all up, it was an absolute privilege and the goal was a fantastic way to cap it all off, the hard work and recovering as well as fund-raising was all worth it in the end and raised well over £2,000 which was our target and we can all be proud of what we achieved.
“I wish Juan Carlos Garcia a speedy recovery and hope he can, like me, step onto a football pitch in the future in any capacity.”
Facts about testicular cancer:
The most common symptom of testicular cancer is a lump or swelling in one of your testicles.
The lump or swelling can be about the size of a pea, but may be larger.
Most testicular lumps or swellings are not a sign of cancer. But they should never be ignored. You should visit your GP as soon as you notice a lump or swelling in one of your testicles.
Testicular cancer can also cause other symptoms, including:
• A dull ache or sharp pain in your testicles or scrotum, which may come and go;
• A feeling of heaviness in your scrotum;
• A sudden collection of fluid in your scrotum (hydrocele)
• A general feeling of being unwell.
It is important to visit your GP as soon as you notice any lump or swelling on your testicle.
Your GP will examine your testicles to help determine whether or not the lump is cancerous.
Research has shown that less than 4% of testicular lumps are cancerous. For example, varicoceles (swollen blood vessels) are a common cause of testicular lumps.
In the unlikely event that you do have testicular cancer, the sooner treatment begins, the greater the likelihood you will be completely cured.
If you do not feel comfortable visiting your GP, you can go to your local sexual health clinic, where a healthcare professional will be able to examine you.
If testicular cancer has spread to other parts of your body, you may also experience other symptoms. Cancer that has spread to other parts of the body is known as metastatic cancer.