(Reuters) – Former Scotland captain Tom Smith has been diagnosed with stage four colorectal cancer, the Scottish Rugby Union (SRU) confirmed on Thursday.
The 48-year-old prop, who was capped 61 times by his country between 1997 and 2005 and played six times for the British and Irish Lions, has had chemotherapy and is undergoing radiotherapy to treat the lesions in his brain.
Smith, who has three children aged 18, 17 and nine, said he had ignored pains until August when he was dragged to the doctor by his wife, Zoe, as he was unable to sleep, had lost weight and was passing blood.
“I played rugby for 15 years professionally. Aches and pains are part of the deal as you get older … I wrote it off until it got to the point that I needed to do something,” Smith told the BBC in an interview.
“I try to get on with things and that’s probably my downfall … I was an idiot to ignore the symptoms.
“Life has changed very quickly. I want to do the right thing for my family; this all leaves you exposed. I’m lucky enough to have a good group of friends and a strong community helping and supporting.”
“I was in my hospital bed and I said to staff: ‘I’m determined to fight this’,” Smith, who was part of the Scotland side that won the final Five Nations Championship in 1999, added on the SRU website.
The SRU said Scotland’s 1999 Five Nations-winning team would raise funds for Smith – who also represented the Caledonian Reds, Glasgow Caledonians, Brive and Northampton Saints – at a reunion lunch in Edinburgh next month.
(Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Robert Birsel)