'People are walking around with this death sentence’ – football man uses health scare to help others

A health scare has a way of putting your life and what is important in it into a new perspective.

Friday, 13th March 2020, 5:53 pm
Updated Tuesday, 17th March 2020, 1:25 pm

Sheffield sporting personality John Green, who over almost two decades has been the face of The Star’s annual football awards, saw his life turned upside down last year.

The normally healthy 65-year-old who prided himself on keeping fit was diagnosed with bowel cancer in November, and had a major operation in January.

He first started feeling ill when he was abroad on holiday last summer, and around the same time noticed some blood in his feces.

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John Green compering at an award show.

John then went to the doctors who initially diagnosed him with hemorrhoids, but went back and received the devastating news he was seriously ill.

“Luckily I saw a cancer specialist the second time I went in,” he says.

“If I hadn't have seen him I might not be here today. When I saw him again we had a big hug.”

Within days John had a colonoscopy and a CT scan, where the offending ‘polyp’ was found in his bowel and the cancer was confirmed.

John Green speaking at The Star's city centre office after getting his all clear.

His surgeon told him would need an operation the week before Christmas, leaving him a lot of time to ponder his future over the festive period.

And the oncologists also gave him some brutally honest holiday reading detailing his impending surgery and the serious health complications it could cause including a heart attack, a stroke or even death.

“It puts Christmas and life into perspective,” he said.

“You reflect on mortality and your life and think is there anything I could have done differently.

“It was quite an emotional time but my four children all came back home and I got through it.”

He went into Rotherham hospital on January 26, before having a five-hour operation followed by a six-day stay on a recuperation ward.

After learning how to walk again after the operation, he was finally given the all-clear last week, the day after his son told him he was going to be a grandad for the first time.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said John.

“It has made me realise that money doesn’t matter - the most important thing is your health.

“I will now be able to see my children mature a bit more. You only get one chance at that.”

John’s recent health scare was his second brush with cancer, after he was diagnosed and recovered from testicular cancer in the early 2000s.

He is now urging other people - especially men - to get checked out as soon as possible if they think something is wrong.

And he is already getting positive feedback, with attendees at the regular dinners he hosts with football start such as Carlton Palmer thanking him for his openness.

“It is about listening to your own body,” he says.

“People are walking around with this death sentence and they don’t even know about it.

“If I can save one person’s life by talking about this then it is job done.”