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Ian Chappell reveals battle with skin cancer

He has completed 5 weeks of intense radiation therapy and will meet with specialists for a full report on Monday

By Our Bureau & Agencies in Melbourne and Calcutta
  • Published 19.07.19, 2:37 AM
  • Updated 19.07.19, 2:37 AM
  • 2 mins read
  •  
Ian Chappell, who has 5345 Tests runs at an average of 42.4, said his constant battles with skin cancer has prepared him for the worst. Telegraph file picture

Former Australian captain Ian Chappell on Thursday revealed he is battling skin cancer but the 75-year-old expects to be fit enough to commentate when the Ashes comes calling next month.

Chappell, who played 75 Tests for Australia between 1964 and 1980, has completed five weeks of intense radiation therapy and will meet with specialists for a full report on Monday, but at this stage the pathology has come back all clear.

According to The Australian, Chappell, after having a squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) cut off the back of his shoulder in August last year, felt a lump under his left arm, and when it didn’t go away, he took himself to a doctor.

Specialists determined the cancer had spread to the two nearest lymph nodes and because of his good health, they wanted to be aggressive with their treatment and after undergoing surgery on his neck and armpit, Chappell was in at hospital for radio therapy five days a week for five weeks.

The prognosis is very much positive so far and Chappell was able to enjoy a family reunion with brothers Greg and Trevor last week, before filing reports on the World Cup final.

Chappell will forever epitomise the steel and toughness of Test cricket, and his response to cancer treatment has been no different.

“When you hit 70 you feel (vulnerable) anyhow, but I guess I’ve got so used to bloody skin cancers over the years, and the fact that none of them have been melanomas, probably provides a bit of comfort. It may be naivety on my part,” Chappell told The Daily Telegraph.

At this stage, the pathology report has come all clear and he is ready to commentate in the Ashes beginning with the first Test at Birmingham on August 1. In fact, he continued working during his radiotherapy, only stepping back from commentating on World Cup matches for Macquarie Sports Radio because of the late hours.

Chappell, who has 5345 Tests runs at an average of 42.4, said his constant battles with skin cancer has prepared him for the worst.

“I’ve had multiple skin cancers cut off, burnt off and every other way you can get rid of them. You get to 70 and you start to think, ‘Christ, it’s getting near the end now.’ But I saw my mother, Jeanne near the end and she’d come to grips with death, and that’s probably when I thought, ‘shit, this is something you need to deal with”.”

“Not that you’re trying to rush it, but when it comes you’re comfortable. I guess I’ve been in that mode for a while now, and when it happens you just say, ‘well, I’ve had a pretty good time and that’s it.’

“When Richie (Benaud) and Tony (Greig) went … again, it was just a reminder that it happens to everybody,” said Chappell who is well respected for his views on the game.

Not many knew about his illness initially but he told his friends and family after being confident about his treatment.

“I didn’t tell too many people early on. Mainly because I just wasn’t sure what the radio therapy would involve and how weary I’d be. But as it turned out, it wasn’t so bad. A bit of tiredness at night and a bit of skin irritation, but other than that I’m feeling pretty good.

“I told family and gradually a couple of my teammates and I’ve been getting calls from them pretty regularly which is nice. With the Ashes coming up now, I’ll speak to Nine (Broadcaster) and just say, ‘look, I’m ready to go if you need me’.”