My name is Joe Thompson, I am a 24 year old professional footballer playing for Tranmere Rovers FC. After suffering for several weeks from increased fatigue and illness. I underwent numerous medical tests and on the 22nd October 2013, I was diagnosed with Nodular Sclerosing Hodgkins Lymphoma Cancer.
Since being diagnosed with this form of cancer myself and my family's life has been turned upside down. Doctors confirmed I was to undergo 6 months of chemotherapy and in early December I began my treatment. If all goes well I am due to finish come the beginning of May 2014.
Once the news became public the immediate response was overwhelming with people from all walks of life providing support, so to footballing legends such as former Premier League referee Mark Halsey, ex Aston Villa captain Stan Petrov, former Middlesbrough Manager Brian Robson, ex Everton favourite Alan Stubbs and current tennis star Ross Hutchins to name but a few, they have all endured their own battles against cancer and the fact they reached out to me at such difficult time was extremely comforting.
I had been suffering a lot of flu like symptoms, tiredness like no other, intense night sweats and physical vomiting for a number of months prior to my diagnosis. I was totally unaware some might say ignorant to the symptoms that can present themselves with Lymphoma cancer. My aim is to not only raise money for a worthy charity but to Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research also use my sporting platform to help raise awareness regarding the symptoms of cancer and also bring to light the incredible work and research that is being done daily to cure this terrible disease.
This is why with the help of Tranmere Rovers Football Club I have set up this Just Giving page to raise money for Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research with a unique challenge.
The #grow4joe challenge was started by my current teammate Max Power who decided that starting January 1 2014 he was going to grow his hair for the next 12 months. His way of showing me moral support with my journey to fight against cancer and get back on the football pitch. So I’m urging teammates, ex teammates, footballers, sporting professionals, fans and all of you wonderful people to join in and grow your hair until the end of the football season, 2nd May 2014 which is also around the same time that I am due to finish my chemotherapy hopefully.
You can grow any part of your facial hair or head hair. For example grow a funny moustache, long beard or an afro the possibilities are endless. We will publish all of your before, during and after pictures on our official Facebook, twitter and Instagram accounts to motivate and inspire you.
If you do not wish to take part in the #grow4joe challenge please show your support for the wonderful people who have taken up the challenge by simply donating.
I am looking forward to beating this disease and getting back on the football pitch where my passion is. I am determined that Lymphoma Cancer will not affect my footballing career it will only give me more strength and determination to succeed. But while I am undergoing my treatment I feel the need to use my time to try and help others in the future.