Lioness Bethany England has spoken of the sadness cancer has brought into her life as she backed a charity’s fundraising campaign to find new treatments for the disease.
The 29-year-old England and Tottenham striker told how her beloved aunt, Tracy Fletcher, was diagnosed with leukaemia. She sadly died at age 42 when England was a child growing up in Barnsley.
She said: “We’ve got a lot of cancer on both sides of my family, my mum’s and my dad’s side. My mum ended up giving my auntie a bone marrow transplant - it was a huge thing at the time.
“That gave her a few more years of life but sadly, in the end, her body rejected what mum had given her and she passed away. It was really sad to see my mum go through losing her sister after everything she’d done to try to help save her life.”
The Spurs captain also lost her grandad to skin cancer, while her great-grandmother died of throat cancer. Her two grandmothers are survivors of the disease, while another aunt also had breast cancer.
“Cancer is riddled through our family unfortunately,’” England said.
Spurs teammate Kit Graham, aged 27, also revealed her sister Kelli was diagnosed with a very rare cancer at 24.
“When I was growing up, my sister Kelli was diagnosed with a very rare cancer at 24. I think I heard the word ‘cancer’ and just kind of shut down. But thankfully Kelly had surgery and radiotherapy and she is here with us still. So thankfully that is a good cancer outcome.”
England, who underwent hip surgery in September but is well on the road to full recovery, added: “Cancer has touched me deeply and it’s a cause I hope we can continue to keep fundraising for – putting the money in to fund the research, so that one day, we can find cures for all 200 types of cancers out there.
“Hopefully that day will come soon and we can save more lives”.
More than 375,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year in the UK, according to Cancer Research UK.
The charity's Stand Up To Cancer campaign with Channel 4 aims to raise funds to accelerate research into new treatments. To donate or fundraise visit su2c.org.uk.