Sheffield cancer patients find 'support network' at football club set up by survivor

Keith Ward, now aged 34, of Arbourthorne, was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 2005, and subsequently underwent successful treatment at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. He now set up a Fans Fighting Cancer (Fans FC) group to share his football skills with other cancer patients.
Keith Ward, now aged 34, of Arbourthorne, was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 2005, and subsequently underwent successful treatment at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital. He now set up a Fans Fighting Cancer (Fans FC) group to share his football skills with other cancer patients.

A man who survived cancer aged 20 is to run exercise classes for other cancer patients to help them in their recovery.

Keith Ward, now aged 34, of Arbourthorne, was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma in 2005 after finding a lump in his neck.

At the time he had a six month old daughter, his partner, and now wife, had been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and they had recently moved into a new house.

Keith said: “As a young couple it was a very tough time for us. I had nine months of chemotherapy, and I was fortunate enough that it was successful and it went into remission. I had check-ups with the haematology team for about five years before eventually they were confident it was gone.”

Keith was successfully treated at the Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

As part of his recovery he was encouraged to stay physically active, and his experience, together with his involvement in football and voluntary work, inspired him to establish the Fans Fighting Cancer (Fans FC) group.

Keith puts on sessions using football training drills that are adapted so anyone can take part, as one of the aims of the group is to help participants to take part in a game of walking football.

He said: “I wanted to do something to help people get active in their recovery in a sustainable way. Some of the guys had never kicked a ball before in their life, but have got really engaged with it.”

Keith also talks to young cancer patients and shares his experience with them to try and help them through their own journey.

He added: “The group also gives guys a chance to talk about any issues with each other, and I can tell them about my experience as well, and hopefully show them that you can recover from it and do well for yourself.

“Over time the guys who come do bond and find they can open up to each other, and it’s become a bit of a support network.”

The group now has helped more than 40 members and sessions are delivered at the English Institute of Sport.