HARRIS TELLS OF CANCER ORDEAL

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MILWALL striker Neil Harris has spoken about his heartache at realising he had being stricken with testicular cancer.

The 23-year-old striker had just finished a superb campaign as his 28 goals shot Millwall to the Division Two championship and brought about a lot of interest in him from a number of Premiership clubs, when he felt some discomfort while watching television on the May Bank Holiday.

Four days later Harris had to put his holiday to Menorca on hold and have an operation to remove a testicle.

Having been told the operation went well, Harris has set his sights on emulating Celtic defender Alan Stubbs who battled his way back into The Bhoys' side less than six months after a second such surgery this season.

"At first, I felt it was the end of the world," Harris told The Sun. "All sorts of things were whizzing round in my mind. Once I got the shock out of the way, the disbelief set in.

"You think about your health and then whether you can have kids - and then the football side of things sets in.

"People say it's your health and life that matters but football is your life when you've grown up wanting to be a professional.

"I worried about that and it was very pleasing that Des Thompson, the Millwall club doctor, was a rock for me at the hospital.

"It was obviously a bolt out of the blue. But we have had some scans since and they show the cancer hasn't spread.

"I was watching TV late on a Monday. I was sitting there with my hands down the shorts - as blokes do - and, suddenly, I felt something. I obviously checked it out.

"I phoned the doctor and he said he needed to see me as soon as possible. I saw Des on the Wednesday, he checked me out and I went to hospital.

"I had the ultrasound scans and found there was a cancer tumour growing and growing. I saw the surgeon on Thursday and was operated on the next day. A testicle was removed. Like any cancer, if you have something growing you have it removed.

"At first, we were told it was the most serious form of testicular cancer but the scans showed that it is the less serious one. Obviously, when I was told that, it was smiles all round.

"All the fans have said the same - life is more important than football.

"Lots of Millwall fans wrote in and said they would swap promotion and trophies for me to be playing and healthy."

Now Harris has set his sights on regaining his status as one of the best strikers outside of The Premiership and add to the 71 goals in 128 games he has hit for The Lions since his move from Cambridge City, but knows he cannot rush back to full fitness.

"If it takes a year, it takes a year. One thing I have learned is not to presume anything.

"People must remember I will not suddenly be well again. I will have to have treatment that might not make me very well and I could be sick for a while.

"But I am extremely positive about getting through this. All the people who have contacted me have lifted me. All the players have called me and everyone at the club has been great."

Harris is certain that he will eventually get back to full fitness though and pledged to campaign to bring awareness to the illness like Stubbs and Jason Cundy have done.

"People die from this and you have to accept that. But people are still ignorant about it as no one mentions it. I will get involved because I don't wish anyone to go through what I am going through.

"I know the PFA are to launch an awareness campaign, saying the disease kills as many people as breast cancer.

"Alan Stubbs has done a lot of work, so has Jason Cundy - and I will do all I can to help, too."