Former Hartlepool United and Sunderland goalkeeper Trevor Carson has opened up about his cancer scare and battle with deep vein thrombosis.
Doctors initially told the 30-year-old that they were “90% sure” he had cancer before he was eventually diagnosed with DVT, a potentially life-threatening illness which has seen him miss the bulk of the 2018-19 campaign.
DVT is a blood clot that develops within a deep vein in the body and is usually found in the leg, groin or arm.
Ex-Sunderland youth product Carson, now at Scottish Premiership side Motherwell, is aiming to be back playing at the start of next season, with the keeper scheduled to receive treatment until the end of May.
Carson has opened up about the illness in an in-depth interview with BBC Sport Scotland.
The Pools favourite, who played two seasons at the Super 6 Stadium between 2015 and 2017, was diagnosed with DVT after first believing it was only a trapped nerve he was suffering from, Carson played through the pain in a 7-1 defeat to Rangers at Ibrox on November 11th.
“I was getting a little niggle in my arm, which was something I had never experienced before. I've had shoulder injuries but this built up over the week I was away with Northern Ireland.
“It was a bit of a shock; you don't expect at this age to get that sort of illness. Initially, I just wanted to get healthy, to be alive, to be a father, for my fiance.
“My mum knew something was up. She told me to go to A&E and after that I was in great hands at Wishaw General Hospital.
“They picked up on the clot and it had actually moved into my lung as well, so I got it at the right time. If I had waited another week or even a day, who knows what would have happened.”
The Pools fan favourite is receiving treatment for DVT until May 25th this year to ensure the clot has “completely gone” from his shoulder and lung.
And he aims to be back playing football by the start of next season.
Carson added: “I've trained 10 times harder since being back at the gym. I'm hungrier now than ever before in terms of pushing on and playing at the highest level I possibly can. It's given me the motivation to push myself.
"I'm on tablets and at the hospital every other day, but I can't believe how much better I feel physically in the space of two months.
“At the time, I was probably emotionally drained.
“It's actually a little bit frustrating because I don't feel injured and feel like I can play, but I know if I got a blow to the head it could be fatal, so the risk is certainly not worth taking.
“While I'm on these blood-thinning tablets, I can't do any contact sports at all.
“If I was to get a knock on the head, it wouldn't clot because my blood is so thin.
“Even if I bump my head around the house, I have to go straight to A&E to get it checked because it can be fatal.
“You play though a shoulder or ankle injury because the worst thing that's might happen is it might go again, but this could kill me.
“My missus is so protective, and so is my mum. If I go on the treadmill they're like, "be careful, don't fall off", but you can't live your life like that,” added Carson.