Former player Oakley faces cancer battle
The thoughts and prayers of everyone connected with Yorkshire Carnegie are with our former player Rhys Oakley as he faces a battle against cancer. Oakley, who captained new boys Hartpury last season in the Greene King IPA Championship, was only diagnosed after complaining of chest pains before going for an ankle operation three weeks ago.
But what started out as a “routine clear-out” following another gruelling season in the long and distinguished career of the 37-year-old, ended up with something much more serious being discovered.
As revealed on the Gloucestershire Live website Oakley was experiencing chest pains that were leaving him breathless and he underwent some tests as going under anaesthetic was too risky. After a large lump was found on his chest and further tests, the former Wales international was diagnosed last Friday with a metastatic testicular cancer, where it spreads to other parts of the body. He informed his close friends and family over the weekend and arrived at Hartpury College this morning, where he also works as a coach, to tell his colleagues and team-mates the news. And despite still coming to terms with it himself, Oakley has spoken bravely about the battle he now faces.
“I went for a CT scan with the cardiologist and they found a large mass lump in my chest cavity behind my breast plate, slightly pushing against my heart which is what was making it hard to breathe.
“They initally thought it could be a lymphoma or some kind of cancerous mass but weren’t sure so they needed to do a biopsy and blood tests.
“I had those things done and it came back on Friday that it’s a form of testicular cancer that has not grown in my testicles but has grown in my chest. Oakley will go for an MRI scan and have an ultrasound on his testicles before starting chemotherapy, which could be as soon as next week. He said: “They’ve told me that I have to do a few more tests to make sure it’s not anywhere else and is solely in my chest.
“Once that’s all done I suppose they’ll start me on a course of intensive therapy, chemotherapy, drugs to try and shift it as soon as possible with the thought that if they don’t completely reduce it with chemotherapy then it may be surgically removed.”
“I think I take a lot of heart from the fact that the doctors are very clear that’s it very treatable. “Testicular cancer now is quite a common occurrence - obviously very serious but it is common - but the rates of success is very high these days with the advancement of drugs and stuff.” It’s too soon for Oakley to set any targets for his return, but retirement is not on his mind either.
“I’m not looking to call it quits at any stage yet,” said Oakley. “I’ll have to miss some things but life continues for me. I’m just looking to get back as fast as possible, get back healthy and see where I am after the treatment.”