Hartson was an imposing, raw striker for whom silky skills were always elusive. Goals, however, were never too hard to come by, scoring at a rate of more than 1 every 3 games for Luton, Arsenal, West Ham, Wimbledon, Coventry City, and, most notably, Celtic.
His impending struggle with cancer is a familiar one, and he has a long and difficult fight ahead of him. It'll take every last drop of that grit and determination for him to overcome.
In August of 2005 I was diagnosed with testicular cancer, but, thanks to the wonderful vagaries of insurance, it didn't get much treatment until well into the fall.
I knew what it had been all along, but the bureaucratic red tape and the endless visits to a small doctor's office in Brooklyn made things overly complicated. It was October when I finally got my surgery, but the spread to the base of my spine was an unexpected epilogue.
The spinal node infections were far worse, and required far more; a few cycles of strong chemotherapy, bedrest (I kissed work goodbye and somehow managed to freelance throughout despite the heavy haze of Cisplatin and painkillers continually clouding my head), and a far more intrusive, painful, dangerous surgery (a RPLND, or Retroperitoneal Lymph Node Dissection... google it if you dare!) in order to kill off the beast.
There was precious little time to deal with the potential compliations from the surgery - painful recurring acid reflux (check), sexual dysfunction (thankfully, no, as the birth of my first child recently can attest), paralysis, kidney failure, nerve damage restricting movement, bowel obstructions, hernias - before going under the knife, thanks to the aggressiveness of the disease.
As the pattern normally goes, lungs would be next, and eventually brain. Of course, not all variations behave the same way; some skip right to the brain, some are far more invasive, others loiter solely in the groin until plucked clean, but Hartson's type sounds especially awful. Of course, there are all the stories about Lance Armstrong and his recovery, but to be grim, for every Armstrong, there are 999 non-Armstrongs, those who can't handle the treatment and those who eventually succumb.
My story ended brightly; after the long course of chemo, coupled with this difficult surgery, I made a full recovery with few lingering effects (and a sweet 18-20inch scar), and recently passed my three-year anniversary of receiving that good news of being cancer-free. Two more years to go until my chances of remission fall back in line with the general population, and I'm moving on with my life.
The point of sharing my small story is simple: I feel for Hartson and his diagnosis, as he might well not be so lucky. Few are, despite testicular cancer being one of the easiest cancers to treat, and I wish him all the best. We all do, and here's hoping his story ends brightly like mine did.
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.