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Vinnie Jones: what I've learned about dealing with cancer

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Vinnie Jones was diagnosed with a malignant melanoma - skin cancer - in February 2013 after noticing a small blemish beneath his eye which doctors then found to be cancerous. He has since been given the all-clear

I think blokes think they're a bit immune to anything. You know, "I've never been to the doctors" - all my mates in England who work on the building sites and all that, it's that kind of attitude and the thing is, it's misinformation - you don't have to go and sunbathe every day [to get skin cancer] from the sun's rays, they're strong enough as they are. Just a normal building bloke, really, should put sun screen on - the sun's rays are getting to you even on a dull day.

There are some blokes out there that look up to me and have seen what I've done and what I've achieved and think it's an inspiration so if I can inspire them by going and getting things checked up and all that and saying, "Look lads, you can get it from the sun's rays on the building site, you don't have to sit on the beach in LA..." I never got this from sitting on the beach in LA, I'm not a sunbather, I'm an outdoorsman - so you're prone to it.

I'm very positive about it. It's like Wimbledon playing Liverpool. You're the underdog with this, and I feel aggressive against it. I feel aggressive to beat it... If you put it in football terms, you can only go with what your coach puts out there. You go with your doctors in the same way. They tell you what they're going to do and how they're going to do it - they never make you any promises. They say, "We'll take one step at a time, let's do this, let's do this" but obviously it is critical and you deal with that. We're in the 21st century now, we're not in the 1970s and 1980s where we were blind to it. There's plenty of stuff out there to tell us that we can deal with stuff if you're diagnosed and then you get it treated properly. But I get angry with it, you know what I mean? I'm like, "You bastard". I get like that.

Vinnie Jones

I think the worst time is at night, going to sleep or if you wake up in the middle of the night. They're the worst times. I had many a night when I'd go down and read a script at 4 o'clock in the morning. You've got to plan things for tomorrow. Plan things for the next week. You think of the kids and you think of good times.

You are fearful. But you must stay positive. My wife's had a heart transplant, she's had cancer, we've been through it all. It's just something that I want to fight back at it, and I want to tell other lads how to deal with it, that it's not a big drama and everything else. But if you're not gonna deal with it, it becomes a drama. That's when you do have to phone your relatives and say, "D'you know what, I'm a fucking idiot, I never got it looked at five years ago". I know somebody who's just died of it who fucking knew that he had it and never did nothing about it. It can be avoided. We're not cavemen any more.

I don't think it is a sensitive subject. I think people need to talk about it more, especially men. Too many men put their head in the sand and go "oh, well I'd rather not know" which is old-school, it's caveman stuff. For anything like this, if you get yourself checked up - they say to you when hit 40 and that you got to check for prostate cancer and stuff like that - the medical staff can do things about it. It annoys me that too many lads bury their head in the sand and they don't take that one hour, once a year to go and get checked up. With myself, it was like "I'm healthy, nothing wrong with me, never go to the doctors, whatever" but you don't know what lurks beneath.

It's a kick in the bollocks. It's an absolute kick in the bollocks. But then it's your character to get through it and say, "Right, OK, what do we do? Let's get a plan. What do we do?" And then the doctors tell you and then you stick to that, and I've stuck to that and I'm pretty sure that sometime this year, I'll have another bit cut out here, there or the other.

You've always got people in harder positions, always, that's the way to look at it. You look at some people - when I was at Leeds United I worked with disabled people up there - some of the things they're dealing with, they're losing a limb or something like that, or have lost a limb, that's never gonna change. And they adapt their life accordingly, and that's an inspiration to anybody.

Vinnie Jones launched the Hyundai FanDome in King’s Cross, which will screen 45 matches across the course of the Euros through a 360-degree multi-sensory experience. Tickets to the FanDome are free, visit www.ticketmaster.co.uk/HyundaiFanDome to register.

(Images: Rex)

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