Cancer-Stricken Bulgarian Hero Stiliyan Petrov 'Back to Normal Life'
Aston Villa's Bulgarian midfielder Stiliyan Petrov has spoken honestly about his battle with acute leukaemia, reflecting on the tough past year and his hopes for the future.
In an interview published in full on the official Aston Villa club website, Petrov recalls the shock of his diagnosis, the intensity of the treatments, the crucial support he has continued to receive from Villa's fans – and backed his old team-mates to beat relegation.
Petrov said: "It was great to come and see the boys today. I have finished all of the high intensity treatment and from now on I’ll be on the softer treatment, which is two years on tablets.
“It was a very, very long year but now, after all this treatment, I can go back to a normal life.
“I can start doing things that I couldn’t do in the last year. I can take the kids to school, I can come here, I can start doing a bit of work and losing a little bit of weight.
"It’s been a long year for me and the support from all the fans, from the club, from the players, has been amazing. I’ve been saying that every time I have had the chance to say a few words but I’m glad that this hard year is behind me now and I can concentrate on getting back to my life."
Petrov added: "....It’s a great relief. You can try to explain to people but they probably won’t understand. Only people who have been through it and the closest people will know what you’ve been through. It’s a great relief and I’m going to live my life.
“...First of all I’m going to spend some time with the family, show them that things are back to normal and feel a bit more comfortable. The kids especially have really missed me a lot and they’re happy that I’m home.
"It’s their first school day tomorrow so I’ll take them to school. They’re really happy so I’m happy as well."
Petrov recalled his shock at the diagnosis in March last year – and at the intensity of the chemotherapy treatment he underwent.
"When it happened I knew what kind of disease it was but I didn’t know anything about what kind of treatment it was.
"I didn’t know how long it would go on for, what would happen and things like that. While the treatment was going on I was surprised how long things were dragging on, it kept dragging and I kept thinking ‘when is this going to finish?’ but with a lot of patience and a lot of support from family and friends and everybody I managed to pull through."
"I had my hard moments but I had good moments as well. I can say I’m lucky because some people with this disease will die very quickly and I managed to keep battling and still be here, still standing.
"....At the start I thought it was just a cold, nothing serious but just something normal. When I was told what exactly the diagnosis was I was a little bit shocked but I accepted it and just wanted to start the treatment straight away.
"...I knew that I couldn’t waste time so I had to make decisions very quickly. You need to think straight and stay calm.
"...It’s a long treatment and I’m in remission now which is very good. The tests are coming back good which is very good to hear but with this kind of disease it takes time, you need to wait to say you’re clear and things like that. I don’t think about it, I take each step at a time."