'An outpouring of love' - City fan thanks football community after cancer all-clear

Anna Say, pictured with her brother xxx at Carrow Road before she was diagnosed with cancer

Anna Say, pictured with her brother Dan at Carrow Road before she was diagnosed with cancer - Credit: Anna Say

Norwich City fan Anna Say has nothing but praise for the way the club has helped her through her year-long cancer battle 

As I write this it is a year ago to the day that I was diagnosed with cancer.

After two surgeries, fertility treatment, six rounds of chemotherapy, and one incredible all clear I thought it would be a good time to reflect on all that happened, and the support of an incredible football community that helped guide me to where I am today.

It was April 27, 2020, I was at work in the morning but by the afternoon I found myself in hospital needing a blood transfusion, due to a rather large haemorrhage.

Anna at the start of her year-long battle with cancer

Anna at the start of her year-long battle with cancer - Credit: Anna Say

After a four-day stay and numerous tests I was told that I had a large growth. The doctors thought nothing of it but knew that they needed to do a biopsy to be safe. It was a week later when the results came back as endometrial cancer and I was told that I would need a hysterectomy.

At this point I felt incredibly lost and overwhelmed so I did all that I felt I could, I called out for help. I needed not only my own family but my football family as well and they more than delivered.

Anna with her head shaven as she went through four months of chemotherapy

Anna with her head shaven as she went through four months of chemotherapy - Credit: Anna Say

The outpouring of love was incredible. Not only from friends but from people who I had never met, people who were reaching out because we are fellow Norwich fans.

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I had a week to wait until a CT scan which would tell me if the cancer had spread, the week was understandably difficult.

You worry that any twinge or any cough means that it has spread, and You end up planning your seemingly inevitable death. It was a week that would have been debilitatingly hard had it not been for the Norwich community rallying around me. What I did not expect was to get a call from the club themselves.

Norwich City's chief operating officer Ben Kensell who spoke with Anna during her recovery

Norwich City's chief operating officer Ben Kensell who spoke with Anna during her recovery - Credit: Tony Thrussell

The day after my diagnosis I got a call from Ben Kensell, Norwich’s chief operating officer.

A man who always keeps an eye on the Norwich fans. I quickly understood just how much he looks after the club and its supporters, he will always help whenever he can he cares so much, and he is a physical representation of everything this club stands for.

He called me after hearing about my diagnosis. It was at a time when things were still so raw, it was something that I did not expect but it was something I will never forget.

I was already so blown away by all the love and support, it was more than I ever expected, and I certainly didn’t anticipate anything else.

It was around the same time when the club was making courtesy calls to many of its older season ticket holders, my own grandad had a call from Grant Hanley, and if the club got word of another fan in need they would add them to the call list.

Norwich City's Tim Krul, pictured with Max Aarons, was a great support to Anna

Norwich City's Tim Krul, pictured with Max Aarons, was a great support to Anna - Credit: Focus Images Limited

To my surprise, I was added to that call list. So a few days after the diagnosis after an outpouring of love and support, after the call from Ben Kensell, I also got a call from Tim Krul, another man who clearly cares so much about this club.

I was shocked I didn’t feel deserving of it, it was all so overwhelming but now looking back on that time all I can say is that it was exactly what I needed.

In a week when I had just found out that I had cancer and that at the age of 27 I needed a hysterectomy, I somehow felt so happy and at peace.

Which says all you need to know about Norwich and the community surrounding it.

It was tough and I was scared but I had support, I had family and friends who I could talk to, and I had a whole group of people who were willing to give me the strength that I couldn’t give myself.

Anna with Timm Klose outside Carrow Road

Anna with Timm Klose outside Carrow Road - Credit: Anna Say

Moving forward It was September 2020 when I faced my biggest challenge, chemotherapy.

Six rounds, one every three weeks. I won’t lie and say it was easy because it wasn’t. In reality It felt like the longest four months of my life, but once again the Norwich community was there ready and willing to get me through it. They were there for me to lean on they were my distraction.

Living on my own while going through chemotherapy was not easy adding the pandemic on top made the situation not ideal, to say the least. I went to the hospital alone I came home alone I dealt with feeling sick and physically exhausted alone, but even though there was nobody at home with me it was clear by now that I was never truly alone.

When It came time to shave my head because my hair was falling out my family was at the end of the phone.

When I had to spend six hours at the hospital during my chemotherapy sessions a friend was always a message away, when I was so tired that I had to watch Norwich City play on iFollow from my bed I was still OK because for the whole day I could be distracted.

I would talk to my family and fellow Norwich fans about starting line ups and potential results.

After the game I could ring Radio Norfolk and talk about what happened, and then spend the rest of the night picking apart the match bit by bit and more often than not revelling in a fantastic win.

It was something that I could do week after week and It really did become the perfect distraction. It was a bridge and a connection to thousands of people, it made me feel less lonely it made me feel less sick.

Anna and her brother with former Norwich striker Craig Bellamy more than 20 years ago

Anna and her brother Dan with former Norwich striker Craig Bellamy more than 20 years ago - Credit: Anna Say

The Norwich City community and the club themselves made what should have been the worst year of my life easier than it had any right to be.

In a time of protests and super leagues, of relegations and point deductions I realise just how lucky we are.

We have a club who always tries to do the right thing, and surrounding it a community of genuinely good and passionate people who always try to look after each other.

It was on the April 19 when I got my all clear. I was so excited, and I could not wait to tell everyone because I felt like it was for them just as much as it was for me.

This experience has made me proud to be a Norwich City fan. Cancer was something I never thought about it was something I never expected but going through it has taught me just how wide my support network stretches. I had and still have so many people willing to help me, and whatever happens in the future I now know that will always be the case.

I want to finish with two clear messages.

Number one listen to your body because it will be your best friend and it will let you know when something is wrong.

Whether the warning sign is small or in my case big and glaring it will be there, so please don’t ignore it, and number two is reach out.

It is difficult but when you do there will be someone willing to listen and support you, and you will soon realise that asking for help might just be the best decision you ever made.