Bournemouth midfielder David Brooks has revealed how his treatment for cancer left him struggling to get up the stairs as he battled his way back to fitness.
The 25-year-old Wales international made a welcome return to competitive action against Aston Villa last month, having last featured in a game in September 2021, shortly after which he was diagnosed with stage two Hodgkin lymphoma.
Brooks revealed he was cancer-free last May, but his fight for a full recovery continued.
The midfielder revealed during an in-depth interview published by Bournemouth club media of how the chemotherapy treatment had taken its toll as he looked to make a return to his playing career.
Brooks received his diagnosis in October 2021 when he was on international duty with Wales ahead of World Cup qualifiers, following blood tests and a biopsy after he had asked for some paracetamol to help him sleep, with night sweats and some weight loss.
“The first conversation we had, it was all positive but at the end of the day, they’re medical professionals and have a duty to tell me about the risks and the possible outcomes,” Brooks said.
“With Hodgkin’s lymphoma, over half of people have six months of chemotherapy and it’s done but there’s a percentage that don’t get the good news at the end and you have to be prepared if that news comes.”
Brooks, supported by his partner Flora and family, revealed how chemotherapy had made him “feel horrendous” and unable to get out of bed for the next week.
The news of being given the all-clear was made public by Brooks on the same day the Cherries secured promotion back to the Premier League and he was able to join celebrations at the Vitality Stadium.
The fight for a return to fitness, though, would take more of a toll on his body, with his recovery then suffering a setback through a hamstring injury.
“I had six months of doing absolutely nothing – I could barely walk going up and down the stairs, I was absolutely knackered. I was basically sleeping and doing nothing,” Brooks recalled.
“I had lost six or seven kilos to go down to 65kg, which is ridiculously low, and after treatment, I think I was 86kg.
“With all the steroids and all the food I’d been eating, I needed to shift all that weight and add muscle before I could even think about being back on the football pitch again.
“I’d done three months of hard work and got to a situation where I’d been close to a matchday squad. I played in a development squad game and my hamstring just popped.
“I’d never had a muscle injury before. Every expert was telling me to take it slow and there were still going to be effects from the chemo.
“It dawned on me that my body might not be the same and I might not be able to do what I’ve dreamt all my life to do, which was a difficult thought.
“However, I never stopped trying and thankfully my body pulled itself together.
“Now I just want to be as fit as possible whenever I’m called upon and that’s all part of the process. Just get as fit as I can and play as many games as possible.”