Joe Thompson: Rochdale midfielder says he must build himself up 'as a man' after cancer

Joe Thompson
Joe Thompson has made 184 appearances for Rochdale in two spells with the club

Rochdale midfielder Joe Thompson says he must build himself up "as a man" before he can build himself back up as a footballer after recovering from cancer for a second time.

Thompson, 28, was first diagnosed with nodular sclerosing Hodgkin lymphoma in 2013, while playing for Tranmere, and was given the all-clear the year after.

He was diagnosed with cancer again in March but is now in complete remission.

"I'm in a better condition than I was six weeks ago," Thompson told the BBC.

After his second diagnosis, Thompson stopped playing football, but he is now cancer-free following a course of chemotherapy and stem cell replacement at Christie's Hospital in Manchester.

"I've been out of hospital five weeks. Obviously it was an intense chemotherapy treatment that I had to go through, but I'm feeling a lot better," he said.

"When I got out of hospital it was walk, then it was jog and now it's getting to a run. First of all I've got to build myself up as a man, before I can build myself up again as a footballer. But that will all happen in due time."

"It wasn't guaranteed I would be alive"

Thompson began his career as a trainee with the club and has also had spells with Tranmere, Bury and Carlisle before returning in the summer of 2016.

He last played for Dale in their 2-2 draw against MK Dons on 11 March and is targeting a return for his hometown club after beating the disease for a second time.

"You have to strip it back and think clear. It wasn't so much 'I can't wait to get back on the pitch', as it wasn't guaranteed I would be alive," Thompson said.

"First and foremost, it was about living in the moment. I would cherish the time I was spending with my family.

"I'm feeling a lot brighter in myself and my energy levels are on the up.

"In a weird way I'm fortunate that I've had to go to such a dark place to see the light.

"I'm blessed I've come out the other end and can talk about it openly, because I know that so many people aren't as fortunate as me. It's kind of a lesson learned."

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