Celtic fan Stephen Mullen has received an overwhelming amount of support during his battle with testicular cancer.
The 31 year-old – who was diagnosed in December 2013 – has seen his family and friends pull together to be there for him every step of the way.
But there’s one special message in particular from Hoops legend John Hartson that will stick with Stephen for the rest of his life.
By Connor Boylan – @connor_boylan
Stephen was diagnosed just four months after tying the knot with wife Debbie last year and has described the moment he was told he had cancer.
He said: “It was the worst feeling ever and I struggled to take it in or ask any questions.
“I was in shock.
“I just never thought it would be me.”
Stephen endured a difficult festive period after undergoing a successful surgery to have the growth removed – but it wasn’t without the help of the former Parkhead striker.
Within days of the news Hartson, a cancer survivor himself, was in contact with Stephen in a series of phonecalls and text messages, offering advice and support. And Stephen revealed that it’s because of his hero’s autobiography that he decided to get checked out in the first place.
He said: “It’s because of big John’s book that I ended up at the doctors early enough.”
Stephen received his most recent message of support from the former Celtic hitman just hours before beginning his chemotherapy at the end of last week.
@mullen_stephen I'll be thinking of you today mate.. Stay strong and you'll be fine.good luck
— John Hartson (@JohnHartson10) January 31, 2014
Hartson works tirelessly to raise awareness for testicular cancer through his own foundation Grab Life By The Balls. The charity aims to help improve the survival rate of those diagnosed with testicular cancer by catching it in the earliest possible stage.
Stephen Mullen is currently planning to get involved with the charity by climbing Ben Nevis along with Hartson and many others.