Luton Town legend Harford ready for his 'biggest fight' yet as he vows to battle prostate cancer
Assistant boss speaks out his desire to overcome the disease
Known quite rightly as an absolute warrior on the football pitch throughout his 21-year career, Hatters assistant boss Mick Harford is now determined to win his toughest fight yet as he battles against prostate cancer.
Although actually diagnosed back in December last year, the 62-year-old had kept the news to just himself and his inner circle, until revealing via the club he loves, Luton Town, that he had contracted the disease on Monday.
Harford, who is now making it his goal to raise awareness of the most common cancer in men and now the most commonly diagnosed of all cancers in the UK, gave an emotional press conference this afternoon in which his steely determination to give himself every chance possible of ridding his body of the illness shone through.
He said: “This is the biggest fight.
“Mentally this is really tough because that is all that goes through your mind.
“You might want to take your mind off it somewhere but it is very difficult, it is always in the back of your mind.
“I did fight my way to have a career and hopefully I can fight my way through this one.
“I’m suffering this terrible disease, but getting on with it day by day, you have your ups and downs, at the moment I’m okay.
“It is the most common cancer in men, it comes in a lot of other degrees.
“I’m just hoping that with my medication and the consultants I’m seeing, that I’m in the right place and I feel really confident that I am.”
Going into detail about just how he found out he had the disease, Harford admitted it understandably came as a huge shock to the system, as he continued: “You can go back to 2018 when I had a bit of a high PSA (Prostate-Specific Antigen).
“I was given a biopsy, it was a negative biopsy and when I went back, my PSA was very, very high, up to 42 per cent and I was diagnosed on 23rd December that I had prostate cancer.
“It was a total bolt from the blue.
“My first point of call was to Gary Sweet (chief executive) and the manager Nathan (Jones), just to let them know that things are not great and how we we're going to deal with it.
“We kept it in-house for a long time and just carried on as normal because I wasn’t in any pain or discomfort, it’s just odd days with tiredness and I’d stay away.
“Since then I’ve been on medication which you need through an injection every three months, medication every day, but the tumour has spread into my hip and my lymph nodes.
“I’m having a scan on the 29th of this month, with the plans to start my radiotherapy on the 16th of August, so that’s where we are.
“I’ve had my ups and downs, there are side effects to the medication, everyone knows that.
“You can get really down some days and sometimes you’re really up.
“I’m not in any pain, I’ve just been overwhelmed with the support I’ve had since we broke the news.
“I’m very, very pleased with the NHS, absolutely thrilled and delighted with my consultants, couldn’t be happier.
"I’m based up at UCLH (University College London Hospital) and they’ve been fantastic.
“Overall I’m in a good place, staying positive and feeling good."
It hasn't always been the case for Harford though, who admitted just how touch it has been living with the disease for the last eight months.
He said: "I've had all the symptoms and the symptoms are not very nice though.
“You’re up and down in the middle of the night three or four times, back and forth to the toilet, very, very slow wee flow, where you get to the toilet and it takes forever.
"Once you’ve finished you have to go back again two minutes later, it's a bit stressful when you’re trying to get into your home and you know the toilet is near, so all kinds of different things and it’s not very nice.
"I always used to look at Jeff’s (Stelling) badge on his jacket when he did Sky Sports on a Saturday afternoon and I never thought that would be me to be honest with you."
Harford made the news public on Monday as he plans to step away from his role in the dugout to undergo a course of treatment expected to last around three months.
Detailing just what is in store for him, he said: “I’m not able to have an operation as the cancer has spread to certain areas, but I’ve dealt with it.
“The treatment I’m having is called targeted radiotherapy.
“What they do is they target the prostate and the areas around it, so it is radiotherapy every weekday for around ten to 12 weeks.
“It puts you out, there are different side effects, but personally, as soon as I found out I had this condition I changed my diet, I changed my lifestyle, started losing a bit of weight and doing exercise.
“Hopefully I’m in a better place and my recovery time will be good.
“Three years on medication and hopefully it will clear up because they say if it starts to come back then you have a few problems.
“It’s going to be a challenge to get through that.
“I know it’s tough, but I really want to get on with it. I’m looking forward to the treatment to get myself better.
“Honestly, I come in every day to the training ground and it gives me a big boost to be around the players.
"It’s a big part of my life and I’m going to really miss it when I go off for my treatment.
“Hopefully we’ll get three points (against Peterborough) and send me off to my treatment in good spirits."
>> More than 11,500 men die from prostate cancer in the UK each year – that's one man every 45 minutes.
Prostate cancer often has no symptoms so men shouldn’t wait to see changes before they act.
Prostate cancer mainly affects men over 50 and the risk increases with age, but the risk is higher for black men or men with a family history of prostate cancer, so they may wish to speak to their GP from age 45.
One in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. This raises to one in four for black men.
A 30-second online risk checker is available at prostatecanceruk.org/risk-checker
Anyone with concerns about prostate cancer may contact Prostate Cancer UK's Specialist Nurses in confidence on 0800 074 8383 or online via the Live Chat instant messaging service: www.prostatecanceruk.org.
The Specialist Nurse phone service is free to landlines and open from 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday, and 10am to 8pm on Wednesdays.