Cup Match star Blakeney in battle against cancer
St George’s Cup Match star Glenn Blakeney has broken his silence over an illness that has ruled him out of this year’s classic.
The elegant left-handed batsman had a kidney removed earlier this year after the organ had become infected with cancer.
Blakeney, who has amassed 621 runs in 20 innings since making his Cup Match debut in 1991, was diagnosed with stage three kidney cancer in March before undergoing surgery at Lahey Clinic in Massachusetts.
Speaking publicly about his ordeal for the first time, the 40-year star cricketer said he first noticed something was wrong with health shortly after last year’s Cup Match in Somerset, where he stroked a game high 68 in St George’s first innings.
“I started to urinate blood in small clots and went to the hospital,” Blakeney recalled. “They (doctors) told me I had to take a specimen test and they came back and said I had bladder infection.
“They gave me some medication and it seemed like it was working at first and then it stopped. It was actually making it worst and got progressively worse until I couldn’t take it anymore. It came to a point where I was urinating blood clots the size of a marble and I can actually feel it passing from my kidney to my bladder. It was very painful.”
Blakeney eventually sought further medical advice from another doctor.
“I changed my doctor and the first day I went to him he ran some tests and wrote a letter to the hospital because he felt I needed to get over there right away,” he said. “So I went to the hospital and within an hour or two it was revealed that I had a tumour 11 centimetres.”
Blakeney eventually underwent surgery overseas.
“I went to Lahey in March to get my operation and they removed my kidney,” he said. “But when they cut me they discovered that the tumour was so large that it had grown into my liver, so an operation that was supposed to take three hours actually took six because they had to call in the liver specialist also.”
Blakeney said the cancer infected two lymph nodes which also had to be removed.
“Because I had stage three kidney cancer they discovered that it had spread to my lymph nodes,” he continued. “That was the biggest concern so they removed the two lymph nodes they discovered the cancer in and now it’s just like a waiting game.”
Blakeney said it has been tough coming to terms with the physical and emotional side of his ordeal.
“Everyday is a struggle, but I’m taking it one day at a time and trying to stay positive,” he added. “Being relatively healthy all my life and then to have this come up really set me back a lot. But with the support of my family and friends I am able to cope with it.”
One thing Blakeney is doing to cope with the situation is keeping as physically active as possible.
“Exercise is always a good avenue to get into when you are dealing with something like this ... it helps to take your mind off of it,” he said. “I’m just starting to take little walks and short jogs to try and stay healthy and eat healthy to build my weight up. That’s all I can do right now.”
Blakeney’s ordeal has given him a new outlook on life.
“I really have had to sit back and realise what’s important and what’s really not in life,” said the father of three and husband of 17 years.
As well as receiving the solid support of family and friends, Blakeney has received well wishes from his many fans.
“I didn’t realise how many people I’ve actually touched through my cricket,” he said. “I’ve had lots of well wishes and prayers, which has just been overwhelming.
“You get people who hail you up all the time, but it took something like this to make me realise how much people really appreciate you.”
Blakeney urges people to get regular check ups to detect diseases such as cancer at the earliest possible stage.
“I want to remind people, especially guys, to listen to their body,” he said. “If something doesn’t feel right, then go straight to the doctor.”
Blakeney hopes to make a comeback in the cricket arena once he regains his full health.
“Hopefully next year I’m healthy enough to play cricket and then see where it goes from there,” he said. “I wanted to make this my last year (playing Cup Match) down at St George’s because I started at Somerset.
“It would’ve been nice to try and win the cup back in St George’s in my last Cup Match. But it seems like I’m going to have to put it off for two years, God willing, which gives me something positive to strive for.”
Blakeney is confident St George’s can win Cup Match this year in his absence.
“I think they will be fine with Oronde (St George’s skipper Oronde Bascome) coming back in the team and a few of the other youngsters,” he said. “I think our team is good enough team to take the cup back without a doubt, and I hope to be there showing my support.