“I Went Numb”, Angus MacDonald of Hull City Talks about Cancer, Recovering and Getting Set for Football Again

    images 2020 04 13T074348.080
    images 2020 04 13T074348.080

    Angus MacDonald of Hull City was just 26-year-old and gradually making his way to the peak of his career. First, he was hit with a shoulder injury. The footballer thought he had seen the worst, and then, he was diagnosed with cancer.

    “I switched off completely. My whole body went numb. I don’t remember anything after the word cancer”, the Hull City star said.

    When Angus MacDonald left Barnsley to join Championship side Hull City in January 2018, he had only one dream which is to help the club gain promotion back to the Premier League.

    Little did he know that fate had other plans as he was struck by a dislocated shoulder and then by deep vein thrombosis a few months after resuming to Hull City.

    He fought through the injuries and was almost ready to return to full fitness after a couple of training sections with the team. Unfortunately, in August 2019 inflamed bowel set in for the English footballer who was just 26-year-old then.

    The inflammation forced him to subject himself to a medical investigation. Through the investigation, it was discovered that there was an abnormal cell growth which led to a biopsy to be taken from his large bowel.

    Afterwards, the footballer was diagnosed with bowel cancer on Friday, 23 August 2019 at age 26.

    “I got the call three or four days after, and the doctor said he needed to see me urgently,” he told BBC Sport. “I knew something was not right.

    “It was a real shock. I was 26 and coming to the peak of my career. You never expect it to happen to you, especially being so young and otherwise fit and healthy.

    “I don’t remember how I drove the car back home. It was like a daydream, and not a very nice one – more of a nightmare.”

    Angus MacDonald and Alexandra Burke

    Angus MacDonald and Alexandra Burke
    Angus MacDonald and Alexandra Burke

    Angus MacDonald talked about how he tried not to use the bad news to ruin the birthday of his girlfriend and X Factor winner Alexandra Burke which was coming up the weekend he got the news.

    Prior to the diagnosis, he had planned to surprise Alexandra on her birthday. He tried to stick to the plan but couldn’t hold it for too long as he had to reveal to her what he was battling with.

    He said: “I had the weekend with Alex and she knew something wasn’t right. On a Saturday night, I broke down and told her the news.

    “I would rather have just dealt with it alone and I didn’t want to upset anyone but she was reassuring. I don’t know what I would have done without her support.”

    Angus MacDonald surviving surgeries

    Angus MacDonald
    Angus MacDonald

    Afterwards, the journey to finding a solution for the bowel cancer began. The first step was a 7hours 30minutes long surgery to remove his entire large bowel, where cancer had been detected, and to have a colostomy bag fitted.

    The next step was to undergo another surgery to implement a new bowel but the date for the operation was not forthcoming and “It was just a waiting game”, according to MacDonald.

    The clearance for the surgery was finally given on his 27th birthday. The operation was successful and he was certified healthy before Christmas of 2019, a pronouncement he described as “best present”.

    “There were times when I had my doubts and I wasn’t sure if I was going to live”, he said.

    “I used to ask myself, why me? First the shoulder, then the DVT and then cancer – what next?

    “I just took the dog out for a walk and thought about what I had overcome.”

    Returning to Football

    After he has recovered, he decided to return to football. MacDonald said when he returned to training in January 2020, he felt like he never played professional football before.

    “I didn’t know how to run, my legs were like jelly and when I got back to ball work it was like I’d never seen a football before”, he said.

    “But it was one of the best feelings and I didn’t mind if I tripped up or a ball bobbled over my foot. I had been through so much that I had such a buzz about it.”

    The 27-year-old defender is one of the few footballers that are taking advantage of the coronavirus break to recuperate fully. Hopefully, before footballing actions resume, he would be fit enough to help Hull City which is battling relegation to survive in the Championship.


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