Football

Footballer died two weeks after wedding when ‘boil’ on his chin turned out to be cancer

Craig Bennett, originally from Llanelli but who lived in Penygroes in Carmarthenshire , died on July 31 after battling cancer for two years.

The footballer, who had played for Pwll AFC and more recently Caerbryn AFC, originally spotted a lump on his chin and after initially raising concerns it was later brushed off as probably being “just a boil”.

After eventually getting it looked at by a doctor and a dermatologist, the lump was removed and test results confirmed that it was cancerous.

His best friend, Brookman Bennett-O’Sullivan, played football and coached alongside Mr Bennett, who was known as Benny to his friends and teammates, at Caerbryn AFC.

The 31-year-old from Swansea said: “He went to the doctors and got antibiotics but it didn’t go away.

“He had to have it cut out. He used to do modelling for wedding fayres so he grew a beard after that as he was left with a nasty scar.

“The results came back that it was cancerous and that he had melanoma so he had a further operation to get anything additional out.

“He then had a scan and they had found it in several areas, including his spine, but it wasn’t a concern as his cancer had a high success rate, especially with his age.”

After starting immunotherapy treatment, it was quickly discovered that Mr Bennett’s body could not accept it as it even began to affect his kidneys to the point where it had to be halted.

When he managed to resume his treatment, the cancer had spread throughout his body and it was too late.

“They got his kidney levels back OK but by the time he went back on the immunotherapy it had spread all through his body,” Mr Bennett-O’Sullivan added.

“He saw someone a few weeks ago and told them ‘it’s all clear’ so he kept it to himself not to put people through the suffering.”

As a “final wish” just two weeks before he passed away, Mr Bennett married his partner of around eight years, Maria.

“He got married to Maria two weeks before he died and she supported and cared for him throughout it all. He adored her.

“He didn’t have children but he adored his small, black dog Dotty and called her his daughter. She never left his side.

“I met him through football and we started training together. We classed each other as brothers and used to FaceTime each other twice a day, every day.”

Mr Bennett, who was a Manchester United fan, worked in Cefn Coed Hospital in Swansea and even when he was battling his illness would turn up at his former team’s football pitch to help coach the other players.

His best friend added: “He was very respected and looked at like a role model by the younger players.

“He was at Caerbryn AFC for around four years and mainly played as a striker. He was a very good player.”

The footballer’s funeral will be taking place in Llanelli on Thursday and his fellow teammates will be wearing football jerseys in his honour.

A memorial football match at Caerbryn AFC has also been organised in his memory, with all proceeds going to Ty Bryngwyn Hospice.

The tournament will see Mr Bennett’s former teammates take on the club’s current team as a way of “celebrating his commitment to sport and his life”.

It will take place on Saturday, August 31, and a suggested donation of £2 is being suggested to watch the match.

 

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