‘I would think it every time he had a stomach ache or a sore throat’: Gary Lineker admits he spent years believing his son George’s cancer had returned after battling leukemia when he was a baby
Gary Lineker recalled the heartbreaking worry he felt raising his son George, as he believed the youngster’s cancer would return.
George, now 30, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia as a baby after Gary and his ex-wife Michelle Cockayne noticed a lump on their young son’s head.
He started treatment when he was just two months old and seven months later he was in remission – but Gary admits he panicked every time his son got sick that the cancer had come back.
Heartbreaking: Gary Lineker recalled the heartbreaking worry he felt raising his son George, as he believed the youngster’s cancer would return (pictured in 2021)
Speaking to The Mirror, Gary, 61, revealed George had a ‘very, very slim chance’ of surviving and continued to be treated on an outpatient basis until he reached adulthood.
Discussing his fears, he said: ‘George is our eldest, but we’ve also had three other children – when they catch a cold or don’t feel well or have a bad stomach or a sore throat, you don’t. think nothing but for George, for those few years after the treatment, every time he had a cold or whatever, you think, “He’s not, is he?
“So there’s always been that but it gradually lessens over the years.” I think any parent or anyone with cancer will tell you about these experiences.
Gary added that he enjoys sharing his experience with other parents of children with cancer, explaining: “If you can just give them a glimmer of hope it won’t make a difference in their treatment, but if it will makes them feel good or gives them a nice experience for a day or two.
Heartbreaking: George started treatment aged just two months and seven months later he was in remission – but Gary admits he panicked every time his son fell ill that the cancer had returned (pictured by 1996)
The footballer also revealed he kept in touch with the medical staff caring for Gary while he was treated at Great Ormond Street Hospital in London.
Gary previously discussed his son’s cancer battle on the BLANK podcast, saying, “I could deal with it while he was sick. I could handle it as long as I felt there was hope. There were a few times we were told he might not make it through the night.
“But again, it was a different feeling, it wasn’t a depressing feeling, it was more of a fear, and sometimes I had these horrible dreams of carrying him in a little white coffin.”
Despite the devastating diagnosis, Gary said he refuses to give up hope that his son, the eldest of four children with Michelle, can overcome the disease.
Concern: George, now 30, was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia as a baby after Gary, and ex-wife Michelle Cockayne noticed a bump on their young son’s head (pictured at the start 90s)
“While he was still alive, while he was being treated, while there was still hope that I was fine,” he explained. “But I always looked, there were other people in there who weren’t as lucky as us, whose children didn’t survive.
Because we were there for about seven months and there are kids that didn’t survive that time and you’re in that environment when they don’t, and that’s always been my fear . I don’t know if I could have coped with that. I don’t know how a parent can deal with that.
“But even if it was always the case, there were ups and downs and difficult times, but there was always hope.”
What are the symptoms of leukemia in children?
Fatigue and pale skin – this is because leukemia can cause anemia which makes the child weak, tired and dizzy.
Infections and fever – children with leukemia lack normal white blood cells which would normally help fight infection.
Eruption – children may have small dark spots that look like common rashes if leukemia cells spread to the skin
Easy bruising or bleeding – this includes frequent nosebleeds, bleeding gums and heavy bleeding from small cuts.
Bone or joint pain – This is caused by an accumulation of leukemic cells near the surface of the bone or inside the joint.
Swelling of the abdomen – leukemic cells can accumulate in the liver and spleen, causing them to grow.
Loss of appetite and weight loss – if the spleen and liver swell, they can press against the stomach causing loss of appetite.
Swollen lymph nodes – some leukemias have spread to the lymph nodes causing them to swell.
Source: American Cancer Society
Gary Lineker Admits He Spent Years Believing His Son George’s Cancer Would Return