Former Premier League goalkeeper Vince Bartram has made his greatest save – after spotting a cancerous lump in his wife’s breast.
The mass the former Arsenal shot-stopper spotted in mother-of two Tracy’s breast turned out to be an aggressive form of cancer.
Now fully recovered, Tracy, 47, and 48-year-old Vince are backing Stand Up To Cancer – a joint fundraising drive by Cancer Research UK and Channel 4.
The campaign, supported by celebrities including Davina McCall and Alan Carr, raises funds for research, which takes developments in the lab and transforms them into new tests and treatments.
Tracy, a former England netball international, said: “He kept his greatest save for me – he literally saved my life.
“We were doing what husbands and wives do, when he said to me ‘what’s that?’
“I hadn’t noticed it and wasn’t exactly checking myself well at that point if I am honest.
“I made an appointment with my doctor a few days later – but I don’t think I ever really believed at that stage that it would be cancer.”
Birmingham-born Vince, who spent four seasons with The Gunners as David Seaman’s understudy before finishing his playing career with Gillingham, says his wife’s story shows the real power of research.
He said: “I’m so grateful for the treatment that saved my wife’s life and I’m so proud to support Stand Up To Cancer because of her.
“We want to encourage as many people as possible to join with us and stand up to this devastating disease.”
Vince came across the mass in Tracy’s left breast on New Year’s Day in 2010.
After a scan and a biopsy Tracy was told she had aggressive breast cancer and would need chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Tracy, mum to Miles, 13, and Heath, 10, said: “I was just taking it in as best I could.
“When they said they felt it was treatable it was such a relief.”
In the summer of 2010 Tracy completed her chemotherapy and she underwent surgery to remove the lump and lymph nodes. Six weeks of radiotherapy followed.
She remained under the watchful eye of consultants for five years until October last year when she was officially discharged from treatment.
Vince – who began his football career with Wolves and also played for Blackpool, Cheltenham Town, Bournemouth and Huddersfield Town during 19 years as a professional, says his wife’s determination should be an inspiration to others.
Now goalkeeping coach at Premier League side Southampton’s acadamy, Vince said: “There were tough times, but predominantly it was all positive and I am sure being that way helped her to stand up to this horrible illness.”
Tracy, who lives in Bournemouth, with Vince and their two sons, added: “Now I feel it is my job to help others going through the same and making sure people know you can come out the other side.”