AFC Fylde ace Sam Finley has received a huge boost in his recovery from illness.
The midfielder was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis just over a year ago, but a recent flare up has seen him side-lined since November.
Finley feared that an operation may be necessary with the risk of 12 months out of the game, however the 24-year-old is now hopeful of avoiding surgery.
“I found out I had Ulcerative Colitis the day before we played Warrington in the FA Trophy last season.
“I went in for a test and found out that’s what it was and obviously didn’t play the next day. I went on medication for a while but it was okay, it was manageable.
“I carried that on but at the end of November I had a flare up. I completely lost my appetite and I lost a stone very quickly.
“I had to go to hospital to get steroids on a drip and got out just before Christmas because I felt okay, but I was back in a few days later and was in right through the New Year.
“The surgeon spoke to me and said I would probably need an operation. I was on the highest dosage of medication possible – over 30 tablets a day – and I had to put an injection into my stomach.
“The surgeon was concerned that it still wasn’t calming down and was keen to operate, but not long after they got the results of my biopsy and found a virus called CMV in my bowel.
“That needed treating before they could do the operation because potentially it is the virus that is causing the problems and not the ulcerative colitis.
“Even with the condition, I never had a day off right from diagnosis, so there is a good chance that it’s the virus rather than the condition causing this recent flare up.
“I am still on steroids at the moment to calm it down and I am half way through an eight-week course.
“I went to the hospital on Monday and they decided against the operation and having my bowel taken out now if I am starting to feel better.
“Potentially it is the steroids that are making me feel better and we won’t know 100 per cent for another month, but the signs are good. Hopefully I might not actually need the operation for another 10-15 years.
“I still have a drip in my arm at the moment, but that is supposed to come out this week and hopefully I’ll be able to start some light training.”
News of Finley’s condition even reached Premier League club West Brom and Darren Fletcher, who suffered with the same condition and offered some words of support.
“My uncle is friends with the assistant at West Brom and he mentioned it to Darren Fletcher who had the same thing. To be fair to Fletcher, he rang me the very next day and I was on the phone to him for an hour talking through it all.
“He had it for around three years and kept getting the symptoms and similarly went on the steroids but in the end it got that bad that he had to go for the operation.
“He was out for around 10 months and I told my surgeon that, but he said everyone’s body responds in a different way.”
“It’s killed me not being able to play football and live my life normally. I haven’t been able to eat, go to the gym, go to training.
“It’s been doing my head in just resting all the time. It’s so frustrating. I spoke to the manager earlier in the week to keep him in the picture and he was delighted with the promising news but he doesn’t want me to rush back.
“I will need to have a mini pre-season and try to get back to fitness. I have been doing cardio at the gym over the last few days and my legs have been really feeling it!
“I’m definitely starting to feeling better and I can’t wait to get back to how I was before.”