THE dad of England star Jordan Henderson has opened up about the cancer battle he kept secret from his son.
Speaking to the Echo, in the week the Premier League season kicked off, Brian Henderson has revealed that his cancer was diagnosed before Christmas, but he and his wife delayed telling former Black Cat Jordan and the rest of their family.
But as his surgery date grew closer, Brian told the midfield ace about the illness and spoke to his boss at Liverpool, Brendan Rodgers, about his ordeal.
Brian was also unable to travel to Brazil to see Jordan play in the World Cup in June, but spoke to him daily.
Now, after successful treatment, Brian is to speak at a Sunderland conference for cancer survivors about his experience and how important it is to talk about it.
He said: “It was a very emotional time when I had to break the news to the family.
“I went to speak to Brendan Rodgers at Liverpool who was very understanding. He gave Jordan time off, and the people at Liverpool were amazing.
“They were very understanding and gave him a lot of support. I said to Jordan that the best thing he could do for me when he got back to playing was try to get man of the match in every game.
“He got it in four of the next five he played – people didn’t realise the pressure he was under. I was so proud of him.”
Brian has now had radiotherapy and surgery to remove lymph nodes in both sides of his neck and a tumour from his tongue which has left a hole the size of a 50p piece.
The 59-year-old and his wife Donna, a 40-year-old self-employed social worker, held off telling Jordan, 24, and Donna’s son Kyle Cunningham, 22, to try to stop the news ruining their Christmas.
Brian was still recovering from his treatment when the World Cup started so was unable to go to Brazil to watch Jordan in the tournament.
Brian, who lives in Washington, did speak to the former Farringdon Academy pupil every day during the tournament.
He said: “He was really looking forward to the tournament and was buzzing about it. That helped me through, I knew it could change his life.
“He was disappointed by the outcome but it was an experience for him.”
Brian, who played for the England police side on the right wing and as a centre midfielder, will speak at a conference for the survivors of head and neck cancers at the Stadium of Light next month.
The tumour in his neck was discovered when he was having a cyst removed in November.
His doctor ordered tests which confirmed there was a carcinoma of the middle part of his throat and a tumour on his tongue.
Brian, grandfather to Jordan’s one-year-old daughter Elexa, and Kyle’s 18-month-old son Josh, lost more than four stone during the radiotherapy, which he described as “the worst thing I’ve ever had in my life”.
The conference, backed by specialists from Sunderland Royal and experts in speech and language, ear, nose and throat and lymphoedema, will feature 20 stalls, and a question and answer session.
It will run from 10.30am to 6pm on Wednesday, September 24.