Bristol bears rugby star Joe Batley urges people to get checked five years on from cancer diagnosis

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Bristol Bears rugby star Joe Batley is urging people to get themselves checked if they notice something different, five years after he received a shocking cancer diagnosis.

Joe was just 21 when he was told that he had Hodgkin Lymphoma, a rare form of cancer, in 2018.

He said that he tried to remain positive during that time, but found the prospect of battling the cancer frightening.

"One of my team mates pointed it out to me and then I quickly realised that it was a lump," he said.

"I went to the team doctor and then I was having tests.

"It all moved quite quickly after that. Then cancer was mentioned and I was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma.

"The scariest part was the thought of what would happen if the treatment didn't work.

"I remember being on the phone to my dad and saying to him I am not sure I can go through treatment again if this hasn't worked."

Joe with his partner Anna and their son Wilfred

He underwent an intense round of chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatment before being declared cancer free six months later.

"It is now behind me, it was part of my past and possibilities in the future started opening up for me again," he continued.

One thing that Joe says he struggled to come to terms with was when he was told that he may struggle to start a family as a result of the intense treatment.

But now he has welcomed a son with his partner Anna Shearman and says that he is "extremely grateful" to have been able to move on with his life.

Joe said: "Anna and Wilfred are the best thing to ever happen to me,"

Joe Batley with his partner Anna after winning the Premiership Rugby Cup win

"I always wanted to be a dad and when Wilfred burst on to the scene in our life it has been a whirlwind but his little bundle of energy keeps me motivated.

"We are really lucky and blessed that he came naturally to us but it was an amazing surprise."

Joe is sharing his story in the hope that it can educate others about the positive impact early detection can have on cancer treatment.

"My advice is to make sure you get yourself checked if you notice anything different at all," he said.

"It has taught me to be a lot more careful with my own body and to monitor things more and that is important for everyone.

"The first diagnosis may not be good, but the earlier you act the better the outcome can be."