Former Rochdale footballer Joe Thompson reveals he's fighting cancer for a third time

Joe Thompson -Credit:Manchester Evening News
Joe Thompson -Credit:Manchester Evening News

Former Rochdale footballer Joe Thompson has revealed he's fighting cancer for a third time.

Dale favourite Joe, a former Manchester United youth player who also turned out for Tranmere Rovers and Bury, beat nodular sclerosis Hodgkin lymphoma in 2014 after six months of chemotherapy.

In March 2017, however, he confirmed the cancer had returned after a tumour was found on his chest.

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He stopped playing while he underwent more treatment - including a stem cell transplant - and was told he was in complete remission again after fighting back, returning to football and Rochdale in December 2017.

Now married dad Joe, a radio presenter, has revealed he's been diagnosed with cancer again, telling BBC Radio Manchester today of the moment he told his eldest daughter with his wife.

Pictured at Spotland -Credit:Manchester Evening News
Pictured at Spotland -Credit:Manchester Evening News

The 35-year-old said: "The cancer's come back for the third time, so far from ideal. It's come back quite aggressive as well, so stage four Hodgkin lymphoma.

"I suppose the only positive is, it's the same cancer as what I have had previously. The issue for me this time round is, it's gone to my lungs.

"So breathing obviously becomes a problem, going to sleep can be difficult. And just talking can be sometimes quite hard."

Joe told how he found a lump in his neck.

"I always check and have a little feel around certain areas," he said.

"And I just noticed that on the right hand side of my neck there was one large lymph node. I obviously spoke to my wife Chantelle and was like 'oh no, have we got to walk this road again'."

The father-of-two said telling his eldest daughter with his wife 'was one of the most difficult conversations ever'.

Joe Thompson -Credit:Rochdale Observer
Joe Thompson -Credit:Rochdale Observer

"When we told her, she just ran off back into the bedroom. And she was like, no, no, no. It's a dream. It's a nightmare.

"What can we say to her when she comes back out because it's not a nightmare. This is life."

At Spotland, Joe will always be remembered for his fairytale strike against Charlton Athletic in May 2018, which kept Rochdale in League One and sent rivals Oldham Athletic down to League Two - a goal he said 'meant the world to me'.

He made his debut in May 2006 before signing professional terms and in total, made 182 appearances for Rochdale, scoring 19 goals, retiring in 2019.

Messages of support for Joe and his family have flooded in after he revealed his diagnosis.

"Utterly heartbreaking to see Joe Thompson have to go through cancer for the 3rd time. Life can be cruel," posted a Dale fan on X, formerly Twitter.

"Just know Joe, every Dale fan and the wider football community is behind you."