Kildare great Dermot Earley is the subject of the latest episode of TG4's Laochra Gael series. The show airs this Thursday, February 11th at 9:30pm.
In January 2002, aged just 23, Earley was diagnosed with testicular cancer.
"I felt a lump where I shouldn't have a lump," says Earley in the show.
"I went to see an oncologist in Galway in late January on a Friday afternoon. After an ultrasound he said, 'Yeah, I'm pretty sure that's cancerous. We're going to operate on Monday'.
"What goes through your head, first of all 'Am I going to be OK? Will I be able to have kids? Will you be able to have a relationship?' When you're young, all these things start going through your head when you discover a lump in one of your testicles. It's a shock because at the time, you're pretty much feeling invincible.
"Football just gets pushed to the side because it's not important any more. Your health is more important.
"I did require about five weeks of radiotherapy. Every day, I'd get half an hour of this radiotherapy on my stomach. You'd feel a bit of sickness but nothing major."
— Laochra Gael (@Laochra_Gael) February 8, 2021
Earley's Kildare teammate Johnny Doyle regrets not keeping in closer touch with his friend at the time.
"If it was now or if it was later on in my career, I probably would have checked up on him more, called out to see him more," says Doyle.
"At that time, you were young, you maybe weren't the leader that you developed into within the team. You just let him get on with what he had to do. All of a sudden, he got the all clear and he was back with us. Thank God, he made a great recovery."
Just six months after the cancer diagnosis, Earley was back playing Championship football. In the Leinster semi-final replay against Offaly, he scored a goal.
"One thing I remember, that previous six month just came out of me in a split second for that celebration," says Earley.
"I never really celebrated anything - you never celebrate points or celebrate goals but I did, I threw my arms up and it was like, 'I'm back now'.
"It really taught me the importance of being resilient. Life throws a lot of things at you... taking it on the chin, saying 'What can I do to get over this? When I get over this I know I'm going to be a better footballer, a stronger person because of it'."
Earley went onto to be nominated for an All-Star that year.
Photo by Ray McManus/Sportsfile