Worcestershire batsman Tom Fell has undergone surgery after being diagnosed with testicular cancer – but the 22-year-old has been given the green light to resume playing next month.
Fell, Worcestershire's leading run-scorer in the LV = County Championship last summer, had the operation in mid October after the specialist discovered a tumour.
Now after a period of recuperation Fell has resumed training at New Road before heading out to Australia on December 7 to play grade cricket in Perth for three months.
Hillingdon born Fell opted not to undergo chemotherapy and instead will have regular check-ups – including when Down Under – after being told he has a 65% chance of remaining all clear.
But the former Oakham School pupil is keen to promote awareness in the cancer after admitting he should have gone for a check-up a lot sooner after a change in the condition of his left testicle.
Fell, who scored 1,000 LV = CC runs in a season for the first time in 2015, admitted: "I was quite lucky. I was fairly stupid in the fact I didn't get it checked straight away. When they did analyse the tumour, it was fairly big at the stage they operated.
"I think if I had left it any longer and had gone to Australia to play cricket this winter without being checked, who knows how bad it could have been.
"Because I felt no different, that is why I didn't bother to get it checked sooner than I did.
"The thing I want to get out there to people is, even if they don't really have any concerns, it is worth getting it checked.
"It is such an easy thing to do, it takes 10 minutes with the doctor. I think partly the reason people don't get it checked is because it is quite a sensitive area and people may feel embarrassed and don't want to go through it.
"But it is such an easy thing to get checked and can make all the difference. That is something I am very keen to promote."
It was at the tail-end of September that Fell decided to take action after initially seeing the club doctor.
He said: "Eventually at the end of the season, I got it looked at, and had a little scan on it, and saw the specialist at the hospital in Worcester and they discovered pretty quickly that it was a tumour. That was on October 5 and I was operated on 10 days later (in Watford)."
Fell, who signed a new three year contract with Worcestershire in late August, admits he was quite calm after being diagnosed after being made aware of the high success rate in dealing with such a problem.
He said "I knew it wasn't going to be life-threatening unless it had spread but the signs initially were positive that it hadn't spread.
"Naturally it came as a bit of a shock. But I knew straight away that testicular cancer is something that is quite common in people my age and it is very curable. I think the cure rate is 97-98%.
"Obviously at the time it was a bit of a shock but you realise it is something you can deal with and you kind of come to accept it and get on with it really and know that everything is going to be okay.
"The process isn't necessarily a nice one to go through but you've just got to look at it as a minor blip in your life and try to get back to normality as soon as you can.
"I found other people were a lot more concerned than I was. When you do hear the word 'cancer' you immediately think the worse and understandably so.
"But I was a lot more confident about it and obviously knew a lot more than other people did."
It was earlier this month that Fell got the positive news he had been hoping for.
He said: "I got the results on November 1, having had the scan a week before and blood tests to basically see if it had spread anywhere. I saw the specialist again that day and they broke the good news that it hadn't spread.
"However it was close. The tumour was quite bad at the time but it was really the best news that I could have hoped for.
"Basically the specialists gave me two options. The option would have been to do two cycles of chemotherapy now and get it done and it's something like 99.9% that it's all clear.
"The alternative would be to go on surveillance which basically involves monthly check-ups for a year and then after two years, it is every two months and then after that less frequent. That is something that goes on for 10 years.
"I'll be getting monitored and having regular checks. I was recommended by the professor I saw that if you can avoid chemotherapy it is definitely something I should do especially as a sportsman as the side effects and consequences can be quite severe.
"It is something I want to avoid. I've been told there is a 65% chance it is all clear and a 35% chance it can come back and if it comes back, it will most likely be in the next three months and then I would have to go through three cycles of chemotherapy as opposed to two now.
"The odds are in my favour in that sense and it is definitely worth just waiting and kind of hoping it doesn't come back and doing the surveillance and just keeping things checked up."
After recuperating with his mother in Watford for a month, Fell returned to New Road this week for winter training ahead of flying out to Australia.
He said: "I've got back into training which has been a bit of a shock to the system this week but it's great to be back. You do get a bit bored lying around at home for so long.
"I'm happy to be back again and kind of doing something.
"Back playing cricket is the best thing about it. The first thing I asked when they said it was all clear was whether I could get these checks done in Australia and the good news is I've been in touch with people in Perth who will be able to put me in touch with oncologists out there.
"That was the best news about it all, I can go away, and I'm hoping to fly out the beginning of December and be there until the end of February.
"A month ago, I didn't know what was going to happen. To know I'm able to get on with my life again and get out to Australia as originally planned is a really good feeling.
"I've got an appointment on December 1, one of the check-ups, and I think they are just waiting for the results of that to fully book the flight. It is on reserve for December 7 and hopefully I'll be flying out on that date."
Fell was overwhelmed with the messages of support from his team-mates, coaching and medical staff once his condition became clear.
He said: "I let them all know pretty much straight away what my position was and to be honest the support and messages I got were unbelievable, pretty overwhelming to be honest.
"Everyone was fantastic and every single person in the squad and on the staff sent me a message wishing me well and all that kind of thing.
"Mitch (skipper Daryl Mitchell) for his benefit year has named 'Oddballs' as his charity which works with testicular cancer and the awareness of that.
"It is fantastic he is doing that. it is a great cause and I will be 100% behind him with that and supporting him as much as I can."