Squad members and staff at London Irish are rallying behind first team player Darren Dawidiuk who is receiving treatment for testicular cancer.
Dawidiuk, 30, who joined Irish in the summer, was diagnosed with the disease following his side’s pre-season friendly against Ealing Trailfinders.
The Truro born hooker is currently undergoing chemotherapy following an operation to remove a tumour in his right testicle.
“All of the London Irish management team and the players have been extremely supportive,” said Dawidiuk.
“The messages of support that I’ve received after Nick broke the news to the lads have been overwhelming, and it’s helped me to remain positive as I continue my treatment.
“Director of rugby Nick Kennedy has been brilliant from the moment I was diagnosed, and I can’t wait to complete my treatment plan and get the green light to return to training.”
In between his chemotherapy sessions, Dawidiuk is immersing himself in the gym and following a vegan diet to fight the disease.
“When I was diagnosed I immediately made the conscious decision to change my diet to a vegan diet to give my immune system all the nutrients it needs to help reduce and fight against the cancer cells in my body,” said Dawidiuk.
“A lot of people’s bodies are in an acidic state, which is what cancer thrives on and if you can reverse it to an alkaline state then your body is able to fight against the cancer naturally.
“The doctors have already noticed the benefits of me being on a vegan diet and they are encouraging me to keep it up and continue with my training.
“By following this diet I feel much healthier and don’t feel as bloated, which is giving me the energy to train in the gym.”
While Dawidiuk is doing everything he can to get himself back to full fitness, the front row wants to build awareness of the disease which affects thousands of men every year.
London Irish take on Dawidiuk’s former club, Gloucester, in the Anglo-Welsh Cup at Kingsholm this Saturday with both clubs working together with Oddballs to raise awareness of testicular cancer to get men checking more regularly to be diagnosed sooner, which is the key to beating any cancer. Both teams will be warming up in Oddballs bobble hats and T-shirts with the message Dukey 2 on them.
London Irish will also be wearing the hats and T-shirts when they warm up ahead of their next home game on Sunday 19 November when Bath Rugby are the visitors to the Madejski Stadium. The club will be making a donation of £4 per adult ticket and £2 per 65 and over ticket bought for the game from Tuesday 7 November onwards to the Movember Foundation which supports research into some of the biggest health issues faced by men including testicular cancer. To make a donation by buying tickets to the game, visit www.london-irish.com/tickets or call 0118 968 1016 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 9am to noon.)
The London Irish players will also be collecting for Movember at the Bath game and a £1 donation to the Movember Foundation will be made for every 2018 London Irish calendar sold. The calendars are available from our online shop by clicking here or in the Madejski Stadium Megastore.
And everyone can join in supporting Darren by signing up to the London Irish Movember Team and being sponsored to grow a mo or take part in a challenge. James Marshall is our Mo Captain, and you can join the team by visiting moteam.co/London-irish.
Dawidiuk, who made 144 appearances for the Cherry and Whites, says this weekend’s match at Kingsholm will be an emotional occasion for him.
“Whenever something like this happens, the rugby community rallies around and offers immense support,” said Dawidiuk.
“I’m looking forward to the game and it will be good to see some old faces down at Kingsholm.”
London Irish director of rugby, Nick Kennedy said: “Everyone at London Irish is right behind Darren at this difficult time and his health and wellbeing is the number one priority.
“Darren and his family will receive our full love and support and we are with him shoulder to shoulder every step of the way towards a full recovery.
“We are speaking to Darren regularly and the London Irish medical team are assisting him throughout his treatment.”