Hemel Hempstead Town supporters and the wider community are being urged to get behind a fundraising drive to support popular Tudors’ midfielder Spencer McCall, who is fighting a battle against cancer.
Tudors’ fans sang Spencer’s name loud and proud on Saturday during the team’s home match with Bath City after it was revealed last week that the young midfielder has been diagnosed with a rare form of bone cancer after suffering what appeared to be a shin fracture earlier in the season.
On Friday, February 8, just two weeks after celebrating his 24th birthday, Spencer was given the devastating news that what was previously diagnosed as a stress fracture, following a football injury, was in fact Ewing’s Sarcoma, cancer in the bone.
With the agreement of his family, Hemel Town issued a statement last week: “Many of you will know that Spencer has struggled with injury since the end of last season.
“With no sign of the injury clearing up, Spencer has spent a lot of time at the doctors and hospital trying to determine exactly what the problem is.
“Initially, Spencer was told that he had a fracture in his lower leg, however, a few weeks ago Spencer was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, which is a rare type of bone cancer and he is currently undergoing a course of chemotherapy.
“Since signing for Hemel, it is blatantly obvious to anyone that has met Spencer what a great lad he is.
“Spencer is tackling this with the same determination he shows on the football pitch, head-on and with everything he has got.
“The club are going to be holding fundraising events in order to raise funds for Spencer, so please keep an eye open for news on the club’s website and social media.
“All of our thoughts and best wishes go out to Spencer and his family at this time. We look forward to seeing him back at Vauxhall Road in better health soon.”
Spencer, who signed for the Tudors in October 2017 from Wingate & Finchley, was unaware that he had been suffering with a tumour in his tibia bone for almost a year – despite putting in numerous impressive displays on the pitch.
The classy midfielder has scored nine goals in 40 appearances for the club over the past season-and-a-half.
After numerous visits to healthcare professionals and months of excruciating pain from April 2018, Spencer decided to visit his doctor. No concerns were raised following multiple visits to the doctor and healthcare experts, but Spencer was advised to seek an MRI scan privately, which he did.
The report after the scan mentioned a possible tumour and Spencer was subsequently referred to a specialist bone unit by his GP.
He then went on to experience a cancer scare in October 2018, however, despite lengthy discussions between specialist consultants, he was told that the diagnosis was only a stress fracture and no biopsy was taken.
Spencer, who has previously played for Bishop’s Stortford, Harrow Borough, Hendon, and Wingate & Finchley, was advised to spend three months on crutches and then return to the hospital with the hope that the ‘fracture’ would have healed. He was told not to play football for the rest of the season.
However, the pain and visible swelling worsened significantly, resulting in Spencer returning to hospital after six weeks, where he was advised to see out the remaining six weeks on crutches as it was ”only a stress fracture”.
In the 11th week, when the pain was becoming unbearable, Spencer returned to the doctor and a follow-up MRI was brought forward. After changes in the MRI images from three months ago, a biopsy was taken resulting in the shock Ewing’s Sarcoma diagnosis in early February.
Ewing’s Sarcoma is a rare type of bone cancer. Bone cancer in itself is rare, with only around 600 people in the UK being diagnosed every year. The cause is unknown.
Spencer will go through chemotherapy in the hope that this will shrink the tumour and this will then be followed by surgery to remove it, followed by further chemotherapy.
The 24-year-old, who made nine appearances for Hemel this term, scoring two goals in all competitions, said on Twitter on Friday: “I cannot express how much I appreciate all the messages and support I have received.
“Thank you so much! I am currently going through my second cycle of treatment and I’m doing well. It’s early days but I understand the journey that is ahead of me.
“I want to thank Hemel Hempstead Town FC for everything they’ve done for me to this point, [manager] Joe [Deeney] and staff, all my team-mates, [chairman] Dave Boggins, [secretary] Dean Chance and Steve Boone [Academy manager].”
He also thanked some of his current and former team-mates for visiting him in hospital recently – skipper Jordan Parkes, Lloyd Doyley, Tom Hamblin, Kyle Connolly, Laurie Walker, Scotty Shulton and James Kaloczi.
Spencer added: “[It was] ledge from these boys coming up to visit me! Look forward to seeing you all soon. Up the Tudors!”
Hemel captain Parkes said on Twitter on Friday: “You got this Spencer. Absolute fighter and such a great lad.
“Please donate to his JustGiving web page so we can help Spenny through his treatment.”
The club have announced several fundraising plans, including a sponsored walk from Watford’s stadium to Hemel’s ground next month.
The Walk for Spencer will take place on Bank Holiday Monday, April 22, starting at 10am from Vicarage Road stadium, and finishing at Vauxhall Road.
The club said: “We would like to encourage anyone from Spencer’s vast circle of family and friends, fans and staff of his clubs past and present, and of course all Tudors fans, to join us on the walk either at the beginning from Vicarage Road or anywhere along the route prior to our intended arrival at Vauxhall Road before the Tudors host Weston-Super-Mare in the National League South that afternoon.”
The route will include a stop-off for lunch and possibly the odd refreshment.
The finalised route for the walk, plus all details and arrangements, will be published at www.hemelfc.com.
No registration required for the walk.
To donate to Spencer’s fund, visit the JustGiving website page at www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/spencermccall.